The United States has decided to return over $480 million Abacha loot which the dead general allegedly stole and kept in various foreign banks of the world.
The United States has taken total control of the funds from the former Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha's Military regime of 1993-1998 and his associates after a court ruling.
The Justice Department revealed on Thursday in a statement that the dictator used the opportunity of being a leader to usurp millions of Dollars meant for the good use of the African oil-rich nation. Reuters reported that the Justice Department called the act of the dead dictator as a "brazen act of kleptocracy”.
The statement revealed that the dictator carefully kept about $303 million in two bank accounts in the British offshore center of Jersey and $144 million in two bank accounts in France. Three accounts in the United Kingdom and Ireland hold at least $27 million, while claims to another $148 million in four investment portfolios in the United Kingdom are pending, according to the Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell.
The loot was frozen and meant to be converted for U.S.' usage according to an order from the District Judge, John Bates, in Washington. It would be recalled that over the years, Nigeria has been clamouring to get the huge loot back from the various international banks, but companies attached to the Abacha family had gone to court, so as to guide against repatriation.
However, a global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption, Transparent International, has made it known that the Abacha regime embezzled between $3 billion and $5 billion of public funds. 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.
It would be recalled that recently the Federal Government was dragged to court by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the withdrawal of N446.3bn corruption charges/suit against Mohammed Abacha.