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FILE PHOTO: Nigeria's Petroleum Minister and OPEC's alternate president Diezani Alison-Madueke adjusts her glasses at the annual IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston, Texas March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Rick Wilking(reuters_tickers)
LAGOS (Reuters) - A Nigerian court has ordered that a $37.5 million (£29 million) property owned by former oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke be seized, the state news agency said, as she faces charges of corruption and money laundering.
The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil complaint last Friday aimed at recovering about $144 million in assets allegedly obtained through bribes to Alison-Madueke, petroleum minister from 2010 to 2015 under the presidency of Goodluck Jonathan.
Alison-Madueke's whereabouts are unclear, but she was last known to be in Britain.
In April, she was charged in absentia with money laundering by Nigeria's financial crimes agency. She had previously denied to Reuters any wrongdoing when questioned about missing public funds and corruption allegations.
On Wednesday the Federal High Court in the commercial capital Lagos issued the order over Alison-Madueke's property in the city's upmarket Banana Island district which she bought in 2013, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) said.
It also ordered a temporary freeze on sums of $2.74 million and 84.54 million naira ($269,000) that were said to be part of the rent collected on the property.
The temporary seizure orders were made following an application to the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Anselem Ozioko, the barrister representing EFCC, told the court that the financial crimes agency suspected the property was acquired with the proceeds of alleged illegal activities.
(Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Hugh Lawson)