U.S. forfeits over $480 million (stolen by Sanni Abacha, former Nigerian dictator) in largest forfeiture ever obtained through a kleptocracy action.
Court awards US Justice Department $480M in assets stolen by kleptocrat, Sanni Abacha. U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) to hand over millions of dollars to Nigeria government, U.S government spokesman says.
The Department of Justice has forfeited more than $480 million in corruption proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his 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 Aug. 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 Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “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.”
The Justice Department suit filed in November 2013 saying that Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others embezzled, misappropriated and extorted money from the Nigerian government.
They laundered funds by buying bonds backed by the United States using U.S. financial institutions, prosecutors said.
The assets were held in banks that included Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc and Banque SBA, according to the lawsuit.
In June, after a 16-year legal battle, Nigeria recovered from Liechtenstein $228 million stolen by Abacha and his associates.
As of last year, Nigeria had recovered about $1.3 billion of Abacha’s money from various European jurisdictions.