US hands more than $311m of stolen assets back to Nigeria

The US Department of Justice has transferred $311,797,876.11 of stolen assets to the Nigerian government, forfeited from former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his co-conspirators.

In 2014, US District Judge John D Bates for the District of Columbia entered judgment forfeiting approximately $500m located in accounts around the world, as the result of money laundering involving the proceeds of General Abacha’s corruption. After appeals in the US were exhausted in 2018, the government of Jersey enforced the US judgment against the funds located in that jurisdiction.

The forfeited assets represent corrupt monies laundered during and after the military regime of General Abacha, who assumed the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a military coup in 1993 and held that position until his death in 1998.

The complaint alleges that General Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria and others, then laundered their criminal proceeds through US financial institutions and the purchase of bonds backed by the US.

In addition to the more than $311.7m forfeited in Jersey, the Department of Justice is seeking to enforce its forfeiture judgment against approximately $30m located in the UK and more than $144m in France. The US continues to seek forfeiture of more than $177m in additional laundered funds held in trusts that name General Abacha associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the current governor of Kebbi State, and his relatives as beneficiaries.

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