A 65-metre Galactica Star superyacht belonging to Nigerian oil tycoons, Kolawole Aluko and Jide Omokore, has been sold over alleged fraud.
The Federal Government and its United States counterpart collaboratively sold the yacht valued at N15.2 billion after accusing the business magnates of siphoning huge sum of money in the nation’s oil and gas industry during ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
The U.S. Justice Department had in 2017 filed a lawsuit seeking to recover assets that include N18.1 billion Manhattan apartment and the yacht that were allegedly bought with money generated from money laundering.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had also filed a suit seeking permanent forfeiture of some assets purportedly owned by Omokore at the Federal High Court in Lagos.
The EFCC had in the suit described the assets as proceeds of money laundering and fraud.
Omokore is a close friend of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, who is also wanted by the EFCC to stand trial for corruption and other unethical conducts during her stint as minister from 2011-2015.
In the U.S. lawsuit filed at the Federal Court in Houston, the U.S government alleged that Aluko and Omokore conspired with others to pay bribes Mrs Alison-Madueke.
“The ex-minister, in turn, steered lucrative contracts with a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to firms owned by the duo.
Despite being unqualified and in some instances failing entirely to perform services under the contracts, these companies received more than N542.8 million through the sale of crude oil, ” the charge sheet read.
The Justice Department claimed Aluko and Omokore later laundered their illicit revenues through the U.S. and used the money to buy N52.1 billion in assets including the Manhattan condominium and the yacht.
The yacht, according to Yacht Harbour, was custom-built by Dutch yard Heesen in 2013. It is the second-largest ever built by Heesen, a Dutch shipbuilding company that specializes in custom-built superyachts.
The vessel features exterior styling by Omega Architects, engineering by Van Oossanen & Associates, finished by interiors from the boards of Bannenberg & Rowell.
The yacht, also known as Galactica Star accommodates up to 12 guests overnight in six cabins, comprising a master suite, one VIP stateroom, and four double cabins. It is also capable of carrying up to 13 crew members onboard to ensure a relaxed luxury yacht experience.
FG to support MSME contribution to economy to boost development – Minister
The Minister said that the FG has schemes aimed at improving the post-pandemic climate for SMEs in Nigeria.
The Federal Government declared that it is working with stakeholders to improve MSME participation in the economy through improving the business climate which will create jobs.
This was disclosed by Amb. Mariam Katagum, Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, at the 7th EMPRETEC Global Summit, on Tuesday, themed “The Role of Entrepreneurship, MSME and EMPRETEC in post-COVID-19 Resurgence.”
The Minister stated that the MSME sector of the economy is the growth engine of any economy which contributes to its development, job creation and export, amongst others.
“An MSMEs survey indicates that Nigeria’s SMEs contribute nearly 50 percent of the country’s GDP and account for over 80 percent of employment. No doubt, the sector is pivotal to Nigeria’s growth, including reducing poverty and unemployment levels.
It has, therefore, become more apparent that supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses by creating opportunities for MSMEs to thrive is essential for increasing productivity, creating jobs, and boosting our economy.
This is why the Government is working with stakeholders across all sectors, to create the enabling environment for entrepreneurs and MSMEs to ensure that they grow now and into the future,” she stated.
On economic sustainability
The Minister said that the FG has schemes aimed at improving the post-pandemic climate for SMEs in Nigeria. She also disclosed that the FG launched the National Policy on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), a framework for the resolution of the challenges faced by the sector.
The programmes launched by the FG includes the Survival Fund and Guaranteed Off-take Schemes, operated by a Steering Committee in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.
“The Government of Nigeria had, prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, initiated the MSMEs Clinics scheme as a strategy, aimed at providing support for the MSMEs in the country.
At the clinics, operators in the MSMEs space are engaged by regulators and business advisory experts, on issues ranging from entrepreneurship, skill development, finance, quality & standards, and on how to facilitate and grow their businesses and enterprises,” she added.
What you should know
Nigeria’s unemployment rate as of the end of 2020 rose to 33.3% from 27.1% recorded as of Q2 2020, indicating that about 23,187,389 (23.2 million) Nigerians remain unemployed.
A combination of both the unemployment and underemployment rate for the reference period gave a figure of 56.1%. This means that 33.3% of the labour force in Nigeria or 23,187,389 persons either did nothing or worked for less than 20 hours a week, making them unemployed by our definition in Nigeria.
Amazon to open its first African office in South Africa
Amazon already launched its data centres for AWS in Cape Town but its eCommerce services had until now, not been available in Africa,
Amazon, US retail giant has announced that it would be opening its first African office in South Africa with a real estate investment of over R4 billion. This announcement is coming a week after Twitter choose to open its first African office in Ghana.
Authorities in Cape Town noted that Amazon would be occupying a new development in River Club, a prime section of the city. This new development will create 5,239 jobs in the construction phase alone. Along with 19,000 indirect and induced jobs.
The 15-hectare parcel of land will cost R4 billion and include two precincts. Authorities said the first precinct of 60,000sqm will occupy different layers of development; while the second section of 70,000 will hold Amazon headquarters in Africa.
Cape town city officials noted that “US retail giant, Amazon, will be the anchor tenant, opening a base of operations on the African continent. The development is envisaged to take place in phases, with construction set to take place over three to five years.
It is clear that this development offers many economic, social and environmental benefits for the area. We are committed to driving investment to revitalize the economy, which is slowly recovering following the impact of Covid-19.”
What you should know
Amazon already launched its data centres for Amazon Web Services (AWS) in cape town but its eCommerce services had until now, not been available in Africa.
Nairametrics | Company Earnings
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