The United States of America has decided to return to Nigeria about $480m (N95bn) considered to have been stolen by the late head of state, Gen. Sani Abacha and his family.
The Nation reports that the conditions for the return of the money are still being discussed.
The Department of Justice in the US launched a Kleptocracy Unit, which will help to track looted funds and money diverted by public officials from Nigeria and other nations.
The scheduled repatriation is the result of the recent meeting between the Department of Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN) and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission( EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
“This is the largest loot ever traced to a former Nigerian public officer in the U.S,” said a source who asked to be anonymous.
“The DOJ, the AGF and the EFCC have concluded all the talks; we are in the process of repatriation of the $480million.
“Although there are interventions from private lawyers, the DOJ prefers a government-to-government deal.
“ I can tell you that the funds will soon be repatriated. If there is anything left, it has to do with the conditions which the US will attach to the utilisation of the funds.
“The US is likely to advise on specific areas to spend the funds on and the project monitoring mechanisms. It does not want the cash re-looted.”
“The Federal government and the U.S. on January 14, 2003 signed the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the two nations. So, no corrupt public officers from Nigeria can hide in the US.
“At the session with AGF and the EFCC boss, they told the Nigerian team that the DOJ now has Kleptocracy Unit which is closing tabs on Political Office Holders and other public officers in this country and many other nations.”
The USA had during the last years launched forfeiture proceedings against the Abachas.
The transactions made it realizable for the Abacha family and its companions to confiscate over $550million and £95,910 in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to them in France, Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States.
The Criminal Division of the Office of International Affairs of the US Department of Justice, in a letter to the Federal Government, identified the accounts where Abacha loot was hidden.
The department underlined the accounts where Abacha loot was hidden: Doraville Properties Corporation – $287 million in Account Number 80020796 located at Deutsche Bank International Limited in the Bailiwick of Jersey; HSBC Fund Administration (Jersey) – $12 million in account number S-104460 in the Bailiwick of Jersey; and Rayville International, S. A – $1 million in account number 223405880IUSD at Banque SBA in Paris, France.
Others are Standard Alliance Financial Services Limited – $144 million in account 223406510PUSD at Banque SBA in Paris; Mecosta Securities – $21.7 million in accounts 10030688 and 100138409 at Standard Bank in the United Kingdom; and HSBC Bank Plc – $1.6 million in account number 38175076.
Also listed are Blue Holding (1) Pte Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £6,806,900; Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £21,846,983; Blue Holding (1) Pte. Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £10,293,343.58; Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd/Ridley Group Limited – £56,962,996.26.
The Swiss government has in March this year confirmed that it has so far repatriated $723 million (about N142.43 billion) of stolen funds taken from the family of late Abacha to the Nigerian government over the last 10 years.
Only the government of the ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo has been able to record the highest amount of US$ 1.25 billion from the Abacha loot.
The above regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar and the succeeding government of the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adua could not do much in this regard, however, the efforts also made.