Jet Billionaire Settles With U.S.
Billionaire Thomas Flohr paid the US government $16 million to settle an estate dispute with a Nigerian businessman suspected of bribery.
The current owner, a firm owned by Thomas Flohr, transferred the funds on April 22, according to a court order signed Monday in Houston.Thomas Flohr founded and chairs VistaJet Group Holding Ltd.
Kolawole Aluko allegedly obtained the assets using earnings produced in Africa’s largest oil producer by bribing a senior Nigerian official.
A $22 million Bel Air mansion seized by the US
Aluko paid $24.5 million for the 15,000 square-foot, six-bedroom Bel Air estate in 2012.
For “exclusive, owner-like access” to a Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft, Aluko owed $21.6 million to Sarbonne Estate Inc., a Flohr-controlled corporation.
The deal was aimed to conceal “the proceeds of identified unlawful activity,” the US government claims in its July 2020 complaint. Sarbonne Estate said that because of the buyer’s prior association with Aluko, it “knew or had reason to believe” the property could be forfeited.
Sarbonne Estate argued in court that Flohr had no reason to assume Aluko had acquired the property with illicit monies. The corporation said Aluko was a wealthy man with legitimate means.
An unopposed motion submitted by the US government on April 24 says the US and Swiss entrepreneurs now feel the $16 million cash payment is the “most effective method to resolve this claim.”
Neither party admitted fault, misconduct, or liability, it said. Sarbonne Estate has agreed to drop a May 2020 lawsuit against the government attempting to avoid confiscation.
Requests for a response from the Justice Department, Flohr, the VistaJet chairman, and Sarbonne Estate went unanswered.
Flohr launched VistaJet in 2004 with three planes and currently has hundreds flying across the world. The corporation declined to respond. Thomas Flohr is not implicated in the Nigerian scandal.