Home » US rumored to be building world’s largest consulate in Nigeria with billionaire Gilbert Chagoury

US rumored to be building world’s largest consulate in Nigeria with billionaire Gilbert Chagoury

by Omokolade Ajayi

A recent report has accused the U.S. government of engaging in commercial activities with Gilbert Chagoury, a billionaire developer and the founder of Eko Atlantic City, despite his criminal record.

Chagoury, a Nigerian-Lebanese billionaire who co-founded the Chagoury Group with his younger brother Ronald Chagoury in 1971, has spent decades cultivating relationships with politicians in the United States and Nigeria.

His conglomerate’s operations include construction, real estate, property development, flour mills, water bottling and purification, glass manufacturing, insurance, hotels, furniture manufacturing, telecommunications, information technology, catering and international financing.

Chagoury began Eko Atlantic City in 2008 through South Energyx Nigeria, one of the many subsidiaries of his Nigeria-based conglomerate, as a real estate project featuring residential and commercial properties on Victoria Island in Lagos.

The U.S. mission in Nigeria announced in May 2019 that it had purchased about 50,000 square meters of land in Eko Atlantic City for the construction of its new consulate. The consulate will be the largest in the world.

The project has raised concerns among some experts on the backdrop of U.S. President Joe Biden’s pledge to combat corruption around the world and, particularly, in Africa.

The 76-year-old businessman worked closely in the 1990s with the late Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s former military ruler who was later accused of looting billions of dollars from the country.

In 2000, Chagoury was reportedly convicted by a Swiss court of laundering some of the funds looted by Abacha from Nigeria. As a result, he agreed to pay a $600,000 fine and return $66 million to the Nigerian government.

Further investigations revealed that between 2012 and 2016, Chagoury allegedly funded the election campaigns of U.S. politicians thought to be supportive of some of his core interests – specifically the protection of Christians in the Middle East. In 2016, he contributed to the election campaign of U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry.

Fortenberry was found guilty of concealing information and making false statements to U.S. federal authorities, which were investigating illegal contributions made to his campaign by Chagoury, a foreign national.

Chagoury reportedly paid $1.8 million in fines to settle the investigation in December 2019, while Fortenberry resigned from office following his conviction.

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