Thomas Flohr – Money Laundering, Bribery and Corruption
Thomas Flohr paid the US government $16 million after he had acquired a mansion from a corrupt Nigerian businessman.
The mansion is located in Bel Air, Los Angeles.
Thomas Florh transferred the large sum after a federal judge in Houston ordered him to do so.
It’s worth noting that Thomas is the founder and chairman of VistaJet Group Holding Ltd, a private jet providing firm.
Thomas had purchased the property from Kolawole Aluko for over $165 million. The litigations focused on the forfeiture of the mansion and a yacht.
According to the authorities, Kolawole Aluko acquired those assets through the profits from Africa’s largest oil producer which he got by bribing a Nigerian minister.
The 6-bedroom mansion spans over 15,000 sq ft. Kolawole had bought the property in 2012 for $24.5 million.
Thomas Flohr’s company, Sarbonne Estate Inc, told the court that it had taken over the property in 2016. They did so to help Kolawole Aluko settle a $21.6 million debt he owed to Thomas.
Apparently, Thomas Flohr had provided him exclusive, owner-like access to a Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft.
However, the US authorities say Kolawole used the deal to hide his proceeds of criminal activities.
US authorities had started their lawsuit against the African mastermind in July 2020. Obviously, Thomas Flohr tried to take advantage of this opportunity and helped a ‘friend’.
What the US Authorities Said on Thomas Flohr:
While the US authorities believe that Thomas Flohr knew or had reasonable cause to believe that the property could have faced forfeiture, his lawyers disagreed.
According to Flohr’s attorney, he didn’t have cause to believe that Kolawole had acquired the property through criminal proceedings. Furthermore, they added that Thomas viewed Kolawole as a wealthy man of legitimate means.
Logically, it doesn’t make sense.
However, the authorities and the Swiss businessman reached an agreement.
In the agreement, Thomas Flohr and Kolawole Aluko didn’t admit any fault, liability or wrongdoing. Additionally, Sarbonne Estate has agreed to dismiss a lawsuit they had filed against the US government in May 2020.
The firm sought to ward off the risk of confiscation of the property.
During the lawsuit, the firm said that it wanted to sell the property. However, the US government threatened criminal prosecution if he did.
Initially, the US government had described Thomas as a ‘close business associate’ of the African mastermint. The government had argued that Thomas must have known about the looming danger of forfeiture considering how various news articles had called Aluko a money launderer.
As a result of the agreement, Thomas Flohr has paid the US government $16 million.
When the media reached out to Thomas Flohr, Sarbonne Estate and the US government, none of them responded.
“Aluko was a Close Business Associate of Thomas”
Thomas started VistaJet in 2004 with just 3 planes. Now he has over a hundred Bombardier Inc business aircrafts which help his wealthy clients traverse around the world.
Kolawole Aluko had partnered with VistaJet in 2010 to help the firm expand into West Africa. He had released a statement on this topic in 2012.
At the time, VistaJet had described him as a member of the firm’s advisory board. It added that Kolawole Aluko was a loyal client of the firm for numerous years.
However, the firm changed its tune in the court.
It claimed that it had never established an advisory board. Moreover, they claimed that Aluko didn’t have any role within the firm nor did he have any ownership in the group including its affiliates.
VistaJet’s spokesperson said that the firm respects the privacy of its clients and hence, it wouldn’t disclose or discuss their identity.
It’s worth noting that the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes) had accused Nigeria’s oil minister from 2010 to 2015 of extensive corruption. This included Kolawole Aluko and his partner in crime, Jide Omokore.
Moreover, Aluko had received allegations aiding in money laundering of state funds. Also, he allegedly helped Diezani Alison-Madueke (the Nigerian minister) live a luxurious lifestyle in exchange for attractive contracts from the state oil company.
As a result, Aluko had generated over $1.5 billion from the sale of Nigerian crude oil.
There’s very little chance that Thomas Flohr was completely unaware of these dealings. The Bel Air mansion isn’t the only property the US authorities are trying to seize.
They are trying to seize Aluko’s $82 million superyacht and a New York City penthouse he had bought for $51 million.
More About Thomas Flohr:
Apart from running VistaJet, Thomas Flohr is an amateur racing driver and a former billionaire.
In 2018, Forbes had estimated his net worth to be around $2.3 billion. However, he dropped off the list.
He was born in Switzerland in 1960. Thomas graduated from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich where he studied business and political science.
He was the President of Comdisco’s global asset finance division from 1995 to 2000. Later, he bought out most of Comdisco’s European operations through Comprendium Investment, his own company.
Also, Thomas is an art collector.
It’s highly unlikely that Thomas Flohr was unaware of his business associate’s criminal dealings. Furthermore, it’s more unlikely that he had no idea how Aluko had paid for the multi-million Bel Air mansion.
Still, he didn’t accept his fault in the court.
Instead, he signed an agreement with the US government and paid them over $16 million to settle the dispute.
This begs the question, “If he wasn’t guilty, why did he pay such a huge sum to the US government at all?”
Certainly, something is not right.
Then again, it is quite common among the wealthy and powerful to use their influence to avoid such disputes. For example, Dan DiMicco, the former CEO of Nucor Steel used his position in Trump’s team to ruin his competition.
Similarly, Thomas probably used his position to get away with money laundering.
Thomas Flohr is a Swiss businessman and owner of VistaJet, a private jet providing firm. He had to pay the US government $16 million to settle a dispute involving money laundering and international corruption.
- Helped his associate in money laundering
- Suspected of using his extensive wealth and influence for illegal purposes