America recovers $489 million Abacha loot

Posted by News Express | 8 August 2014 | 3,895 times

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The United States has recovered $489 million hidden in bank accounts around the world by a former Nigerian dictator and his associates.

A Justice Department news release Thursday said the money represents a portion of the billions of dollars stolen from the people of Nigeria by former Nigerian president Sani Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and other corrupt individuals.

The department says the money can be used for the benefit of the Nigerian people, but that the ultimate disposition of the funds depends on rulings in several foreign jurisdictions.

Approximately $303 million are in two bank accounts in the British dependency of Jersey, $144 million are in two bank accounts in France, and three other bank accounts in Britain and Ireland have at least $27 million.

Claims to an additional $148 million in four investment portfolios in Britain are pending. 

“General Abacha and others systematically embezzled billions of dollars in public funds from the Central Bank of Nigeria on the false pretense that the funds were necessary for national security,” the justice department said.

“The conspirators withdrew the funds in cash and then moved the money overseas through US financial institutions.”

An army general deeply involved in Nigerian politics since the 1960s, Abacha ousted a transitional government in 1993 and assumed the role of head of state until he suddenly died in June 1998.

Assistant Attorney General Caldwell branded Abacha’s theft “brazen acts of kleptocracy” aided by his son Mohammed and his former associate and still-prominent politician Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said it was not clear how long it would take to take possession of the funds and give them back to Nigeria.

“Our goal is to repatriate the recouped funds for the benefit of the Nigerian people,” he said.

•Pieced together from AFP and VOA reports. Photo shows late Gen. Abacha.

Source: News Express

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