Nigeria invests $308mn recovered Abacha loot in infrastructure projects

Jersey, Nigeria and US governments entered into an greement to repatriate the US$308 million of forfeited assets to Nigeria after about 20 years of negotiations and court cases.
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The Nigerian government has signed an agreement with the governments of Jersey and United States for the recovery and transfer of $308 million looted by the country’s late former Head of State, General Sani Abacha and said it will be used for the completion of three mega projects: Lagos – Ibadan Expressway, Abuja – Kano Expressway and the Second Niger bridge for the benefit of citizens.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami said this in a statement co-signed by Nigeria, Jersey and United States officials released in Abuja late Monday by the US embassy.

The Government of Jersey, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Government of the United States of America entered into an Asset Recovery Agreement to repatriate the US$308 million of forfeited assets to Nigeria after about 20 years of negotiations and court cases.

“As you are aware, the government of Nigeria has committed that the assets will support and assist in expediting the construction of the three major infrastructure projects across Nigeria,” Malami said.

The justice minister went ahead to state that the projects currently being executed under the supervision of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority “as a public-private partnership (PPP) will boost economic growth and help alleviate poverty by connecting people and supply chains from the East to the West and to the Northern part of Nigeria, a vast area covering several kilometers with millions of the country’s population set to benefit from the road infrastructures.”

The funds were laundered by the late Abacha through the US banking system and then held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a BVI company, and in the name of the sons of the former Nigerian Head of State.

In 2014 a U.S. Federal Court in Washington DC forfeited the money as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the period from 1993 to 1998 when General Abacha was Head of State.

The case is a result of extensive co-operation between Jersey authorities, the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Nigerian authorities with crucial assistance from other governments around the world.

The Nigerian minister said the agreement has “culminated in a major victory, for Nigeria and other African countries as it recognizes that crime does not pay and that it is important for the international community to seek for ways to support sustainable development through the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets.”

The US, Jersey and Nigerian governments urged civil society organizations and the Nigerian public to be involved in the monitoring of the key infrastructure projects that will greatly enhance road transportation in the country to ease the burden of Nigerians.

Jersey’s Minister for External Relations, Senator Ian Gorst, said:

“Since becoming aware that the alleged proceeds of Abacha corruption and money laundering had passed through Jersey financial institutions, the Jersey authorities have done everything within their power to investigate what happened and to return the money to its rightful owners, the people of Nigeria.”

US Deputy Assistant Attorney Brian Benczkowski announced the agreement on behalf of the United States.

Benczkowski said “the Department is pleased to enter into this agreement with The Bailiwick of Jersey and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to return this enormous amount of stolen funds for the benefit of the people harmed by the corruption in Nigeria.  Through the recovery of these funds — and this mutual agreement — the people of Nigeria can see the money they lost to corruption in flagrant disregard of the rule of law is returned through a lawful process.”

The agreement represents the culmination of two decades of intensive work by law enforcement officers in Jersey, the United States and Nigeria.

The return of the assets to Nigeria had been delayed by a number of hard-fought challenges by third parties which were defeated in the Courts in Jersey and the United States.

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