The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has repatriated more than $20.6 million worth of assets linked to former Head of State, the late Gen Sani Abacha and his associates.
The DoJ in a statement on Thursday, November 17, 2022, said that the transfer of funds “is in accordance with an August 23 agreement between the governments to repatriate assets the United States forfeited that were traceable to kleptocracy of the former Nigerian dictator.”
“The forfeited assets represent corrupt monies laundered during and after the military regime of General Abacha, who became head of state in Nigeria through a military coup on Nov. 17, 1993,” the statement read.
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According to a statement published on the DoJ website, the repatriation brings the total amount forfeited and returned by the US in this case to approximately $332.4m.
The transfer of funds ultimately stems from a 2014 judgement in the District of Columbia, ordering the forfeiture of approximately $500 million worth of assets linked to the former dictator.
The complaint filed in the case alleged that Abacha, his son Mohammed, their associate, Abubakar Bagudu, 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.
The statement read, ‘’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 Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) 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 extensive 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.