9 August 2014

Nigeria: U.S Takes Over U.S. $480 Million Abacha Loot

The Department of Justice Thursday said it has forfeited more than $480 million in corruption proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, his son, Mohammed Abacha, and other co-conspirators.

Assistant Attorney-General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge, Valerie Parlave, of the FBI's Washington Field Office made the announcement after a judgment was entered on August 6, 2014, by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates of the District of Columbia.

"Rather than serve his county, General Abacha used his public office in Nigeria to loot millions of dollars, engaging in brazen acts of kleptocracy," said Caldwell in a statement by the DOJ.

"With this judgment, we have forfeited $480 million in corruption proceeds that can be used for the benefit of the Nigerian people. Through the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, the Department of Justice's Criminal Division denies kleptocrats like Abacha the fruits of their crimes, and protects the U.S. financial system from money laundering. In coordination with our partners in Jersey, France and the United Kingdom, we are helping to end this chapter of corruption and flagrant abuse of office," said Assistant Director in Charge Parlave.

The forfeited assets represent the proceeds of corruption during and after the military regime of General Abacha, who assumed the office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through a military coup on November 17, 1993, and held that position until his death on June 8, 1998. The complaint alleges that General Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions of dollars from the government of Nigeria and others, then laundered their criminal proceeds through U.S. financial institutions and the purchase of bonds backed by the United States.

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