March 6, 2014

NIGERIA: Nigeria: U.S. Freezes U.S.$458 Million in Assets Stolen by Late Nigerian Dictator Abacha

A friend of mine posted a global warming video on facebook this past Sunday titled, "What We Can Do To End World Hunger". The message attached to the video reads, "Meat-eating societies are the main cause of world hunger because they feed a disproportionate percentage of the world's crops to 60 billion land animals annually killed by the meat, dairy and egg industries worldwide, and tens of billions of marine animals... instead of the 6.5 billion people on the planet."
My reply was, "Umm... not quite. Their governments are responsible for them starving to death. Horrible economies, kicking local farmers off their lands and giving it to the Chinese agri, high crime, Islamist militants and even their governments stealing any food and financial aid sent to help them. Plus, governments let food rot in government storage facilities to control food prices. And in India, the poorest people in the country starve to death literally because of corrupt government officials responsible for their food welfare programs. Please don't be fooled by this UN Agenda21 global warming propaganda bs.

All Africa news
written by VOA staff
Thursday March 6, 2014

The United States has frozen more than $458 million in assets stolen by the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and hidden in accounts around the world.

The Justice Department says the move to recover the money is the largest such action in its history.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman calls this a clear message that the United States is determined to confiscate the riches of corrupt leaders who drain their countries' resources.

U.S. officials say General Abacha embezzled billions while millions of Nigerians lived in poverty. They say he and his co-conspirators laundered their stolen funds through U.S. financial institutions and U.S.-backed bonds.

General Abacha seized power in oil-rich Nigeria in a 1993 military coup and ruled the country until his death in 1998.


The Daily Times Nigeria
written by Staff
Thursday March 6, 2014

The United States said Wednesday it had ordered a freeze on $458 million in assets stolen by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his accomplices and hidden in European accounts.

The Justice Department said the corruption proceeds -- stashed away in bank accounts in Britain, France and Jersey -- were frozen at Washington's request with the help of local authorities.

Abacha died in office in 1998, but his surviving relatives still include some of the richest and most influential figures in Africa's most populous nation.

According to a civil forfeiture complaint unsealed in the US District Court in Washington, the department wants the recover more than $550 million in connection with the action.

"This is the largest civil forfeiture action to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption ever brought by the department," said Mythili Raman, acting assistant attorney general.

"General Abacha was one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory, who embezzled billions from the people of Nigeria while millions lived in poverty," she said.

The Justice Department said the assets frozen -- along with additional assets named in the complaint -- represent the "proceeds of corruption" during and after the military regime of Abacha, who became president of Nigeria through a military coup on November 17, 1993 and held that office until his death on June 8, 1998.

The complaint alleges that Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others "embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria and others, then laundered their criminal proceeds through the purchase of bonds backed by the United States using US financial institutions."

Raman said that the action sends a "clear message" that the United States is "determined and equipped to confiscate the ill-gotten riches of corrupt leaders who drain the resources of their countries."

The US government's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative "where appropriate" provides for the return of stolen proceeds "to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office."

It did not specify what action would be taken with regard to the Abacha case.

The funds frozen include approximately $313 million in two bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey and $145 million in two bank accounts in France, the department said.

Four investment portfolios and three bank accounts in Britain were frozen, with an estimated value of at least $100 million but the exact amounts in the accounts have not yet been determined, it said.

The Justice Department said that on February 25 and 26, authorities in Jersey, France and Britain complied with the US action to freeze the assets.

The complaint also seeks to freeze five corporate entities registered in the British Virgin Islands.

According to the complaint, Abacha and others systematically embezzled billions of dollars in public funds from Nigeria's central bank on the false pretense that the funds were necessary for national security. They withdrew the funds in cash and then moved the money overseas through US financial institutions.

Abacha and his finance minister, Anthony Ani, also allegedly caused the Nigerian government to buy Nigerian government bonds at vastly inflated prices from a company controlled by Bagudu and Mohammed Abacha. That operation created an an illegal windfall of more than $282 million.

In addition, Abacha and his co-conspirators allegedly extorted more than $11 million from a French civil engineering company, Dumez, and its Nigerian affiliate in connection with payments on government contracts.

Funds involved in each of these schemes were laundered through the United States in nine financial institutions, the complaint alleged.

The financial institutions involved include Citibank, Chase Manhattan Bank and Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, now JPMorgan Chase, and New York-based units of Britain's Barclays Bank and Germany's Commerz bank.

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