Court Dismisses FG’s Assets Forfeiture Case, Declares Aiteo’s Benedict Peters’ Earnings Legitimate | Nigeria Newspaper- Nigeria News| Naija News

20.12.17

Court Dismisses FG’s Assets Forfeiture Case, Declares Aiteo’s Benedict Peters’ Earnings Legitimate

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Court Dismisses FG’s Assets Forfeiture Case, Declares Aiteo’s Benedict Peters’ Earnings Legitimate
A High Court sitting in Abuja has declared that the earnings and assets accruing to oil magnate and Aiteo Energy boss, Mr. Benedict Peters, were acquired legally through legitimate sources.
This follows a similar ruling quashing the multiple money laundering charges and bribery of election officials allegations levelled against Peters.
Justice Valentine Ashi gave the ruling on December 7, 2017, a copy of which was made available to THISDAY, whilst pronouncing judgment in the proceedings brought before him challenging the provenance and legality of the ownership of assets and properties belonging to the Aiteo boss.
According to the judge, there was no evidence to support the suggestion that any aspect of Peters’ businesses showed any criminal conduct and as such, the allegations were baseless.
In the proceedings in suit number FCT/HC/CV/ 0091/ 17, the plaintiff, Moses Uyah had alleged that Peters’ acquisition of a number of assets was fraudulent because he was unable to account for the income or earnings from which such purchases could have been lawfully funded.
In consequence, he asked the court not only to find that Peters’ acquisitions of the properties were illegitimate, but that he was also living above his means and that the funds utilised for the purchases were the proceeds of corruption as well as illegitimate dealings.
On the basis of his deposition, he had asked the court to forfeit the assets to the federal government.
But Peters, in response, willingly produced to the court evidence to demonstrate his business dealings over the past 25 years in the oil and gas industry.
He also provided evidence from financial institutions for funding raised over several years, which allowed him to invest and conduct business that resulted in the considerable growth of the Aiteo Group.
In his ruling, Justice Ashi found that on the said evidence presented at the court, Peters had established that he had a credible and verifiable means of livelihood, had substantial personal wealth to fund his acquisitions, did legitimately fund the acquisition of the properties identified in the proceedings, and therefore could not be accused of living above his means.
The judge further established that there was no evidence to support the suggestion that any aspect of Peters’ business showed any criminal conduct and as such, the plaintiff’s allegations were baseless.
In dismissing the case, Justice Ashi ruled that the “said assets and properties having been legitimately acquired by the defendant cannot be forfeited to the government under any circumstances”.
The judge further restrained “any person, security agency or authority from disturbing the defendant’s quiet enjoyment of his assets and properties having been found to be legitimately acquired”.
In upholding Peters’ evidence and contention, the judge found that there was no merit in the allegations of criminal conduct relied upon by Uyah and the case as a whole.
In doing so, the judge observed: “…that in the absence of any specific offence and proof of the commission of a crime, the defendant legitimately and lawfully acquired the assets and properties, the subject matter of this suit…”
The assets listed included 58 Harley House, Marylebone Road, London worth £2,800,000 million, Apartments 4, 5, Arlington Street, London worth £11,800,000 million, Flat 5, 83-86, Prince Albert Road, London worth £3,750,000 million and other assets of Aiteo Energy Resources worth over $4.023 billion.
Also listed by and affected by the judgment were monies in Account No 105277 in FBN Bank (UK) in the name of Mr. B and Mrs. N. Peters, monies in Account No 107127 in FBN Bank (UK) of Walworth Properties Ltd, the sum of £36,674.7 held on behalf of defendant in the client Account of Clyde and Co. LLP, London, the sum of £40,620 held in the correspondent Bank Account at Ghana International Bank, London, and shares in Walworth Properties Limited, Rosewood Investments and Colinwood Limited.

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