The United States Department of Justice said it had transferred over $20.6m Abacha loot to Nigeria in line with an August 23 agreement between the federal government and the US.
The agreement was signed to aid the repatriation of assets stolen by former head of state General Sani Abacha.
This was published on the DoJ website on Thursday. The repatriation tallies the sum so far returned by the US to Nigeria to $332.4m.
Our correspondent reports that in 2020, the department repatriated over $311.7m of the forfeited assets that had been located in the Bailiwick of Jersey.
Also, the United Kingdom enforced the US judgment against the additional $20.6m. In 2014, a judgment was entered in the District of Columbia ordering the forfeiture of approximately $500m located in accounts around the world, as the result of a civil forfeiture complaint for more than $625m traceable to money laundering involving the proceeds of Abacha’s corruption.
The forteited sums are among the looted funds stashed by Abacha who ruled Nigeria from November 17, 1993 to June 8, 1998.
The complaint filed in the case alleged that Abacha, his son Mohammed, their associate, Abubakar Bagudu, now Kebbi State governor, and others, embezzled, misappropriated, and extorted billions of dollars from the government coffers and others, and then laundered their criminal proceeds through US financial institutions and transactions.
According to the statement, ‘’The United Kingdom’s cooperation in the investigation, restraint, and enforcement of the US judgment, along with the valuable contributions of Nigeria and other law enforcement partners around the world, including the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency, as well as those of the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, have been instrumental to the recovery of these funds.
“Under the agreement signed in August, the US agreed to transfer 100 per cent of the net forfeited assets to Nigeria to support three critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria that were previously authorised by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian legislature.
“The $20,637,622.27 marks a slight reduction from the $23m announced in August due primarily to exchange rate fluctuations between British pounds sterling and US dollars. The funds governed by this agreement will help finance the Second Niger Bridge, the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, and the Abuja-Kano road – investments that will benefit the citizens.”
The department appreciated the assistance provided by the governments of the United Kingdom, Nigeria, Jersey, and France in this investigation. It added that the case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section working in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The US encouraged individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the US to contact federal law enforcement or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.