06 Jun 2019
Over $267 million has been seized from an account maintained for former Nigerian head-of-state Sani Abacha, according to the Bailiwick of Jersey.
The funds, which have been transferred to Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund, were derived from corruption and laundered through the US banking system with aid of Abacha’s son before their eventual transfer to the UK crown dependency, the government said.
Authorities originally froze the funds in 2014 but their formal seizure was delayed following legal challenges by the British Virgin Islands-based shell company Doraville, which held the account. The money will now be split between Jersey, Nigeria and the United States, according to the government, which did not specify how the funds would be divided.
In 2014, the US Justice Department accused Abacha, his son Mohammad Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others of embezzling, misappropriating and extorting billions of dollars from the Nigerian government.
The group ultimately laundered the funds through US banks and bonds backed by the United States before transferring a total $625 million to bank accounts in Jersey, France and the United Kingdom, as well as to four UK investment portfolios, the department said at the time.
Abacha died in 1998 at the age of 54, months before a presidential election in which he was the only candidate. Shortly following his death, US officials told The New York Times that were indications that Abacha had been poisoned while in the company of three prostitutes, though the Nigerian government has maintained that he died of a heart attack.
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