Late Gen. Sani Abacha
Obinna Chima with agency report
Swiss officials have said they will be returning about $380 million stolen by former dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, to Nigeria.
Geneva prosecutors, according to the Associated Press (AP), said on Tuesday that they ordered the money seized in Luxembourg starting in 2006. It was transferred to Switzerland and officially confiscated last year following an agreement between the federal government and the Abacha family under which the Nigerian government dropped its case against the late dictator’s son, Abba Abacha.
The money, confiscated on the basis that the Abacha family was a criminal organisation, will now be returned to Nigeria under World Bank supervision.
Geneva prosecutors closed their own case, opened in 1999, in which Abba Abacha was the last person still under investigation.
The $380 million had been placed in several accounts abroad that were controlled by the Abacha family, the Geneva prosecutors’ office said in a statement.
The money was seized in 2006 in Luxembourg, under orders from the Swiss authorities.
The Abacha family had also placed some $500 million (530 million euros) in Swiss banks, though those funds have already been returned to Nigeria.
The $380 million will be returned under the World Bank’s supervision, said the prosecutor’s office.
The authorities have also decided to drop their case against Abba Abacha, which began in 1999.
In 2012, the dictator’s son was handed a one-year suspended prison sentence for participating in a criminal organisation.
Switzerland’s top court cancelled the sentence in May 2014, citing procedural reasons.
The Geneva prosecutor’s office yesterday said Abba Abacha had been detained for 561 days from 2004 to 2006, without receiving compensation.
The Abacha affair began in 1999, when Nigeria asked the Swiss judicial authorities to help it recover $2.2 billion ($2 billion euros) embezzled and siphoned off by Sani Abacha while he was in power.
Last December, the State of Jersey, the biggest territory in the Channels Island, announced that it would return £315 million Abacha loot to Nigeria.
The Island famous for its transparent banking services had previously repatriated in two tranches £140 million of the loot.
The money was laundered on behalf of Abacha by Raj Bhojwani, an Indian businessman.
Bhojwani is currently serving an eight-year sentence in a UK prison.