The Department of Justice has frozen more than $458 million hidden by former Nigerian military dictator Gen. Sani Abacha in France and the Channel Islands, in one of the largest civil forfeitures case ever brought against a foreign leader by the United States.
The Justice Department is also seeking forfeiture of an additional $100 million suspected of being held in four investment portfolios and three bank accounts in the United Kingdom, including the British Virgin Islands, NBC News reports.
According to the complaint filed in federal court in Washington D.C., Gen. Sani Abacha, his sons and other conspirators allegedly transferred billions out of Nigeria during the 1990s. Some of that money was allegedly taken from the Central Bank of Nigeria through a series of “security votes” letters and then used to buy millions of U.S. dollar-denominated Nigerian bonds.
Some of those billions allegedly were taken from the Central Bank of Nigeria on national security grounds through a series of “security votes” letters, then used to buy hundreds of millions of U.S. dollar-denominated Nigerian bonds.
The complaint said, “These bonds generated tens of millions of dollars in interest paid through Citibank in New York and guaranteed by the United States. In effect the conspirators lent money stolen from Nigeria back to Nigeria with zero risk and at an enormous profit.”
In addition to Citibank, Chase Manhattan Bank, Barclays Bank and JP Morgan Chase are among the financial institutions used in Gen. Sani Abacha’s schemes.
Abacha served as Nigerian president as a result of a military coup from 1993 to his death in 1998. His son, Mohammed Sani Abacha, who is named in the complaint still lives in Nigeria. The Nigerian Supreme Court ordered his arrest to face theft charges. Gen Abacha’s other son, Ibrahim Sani Abacha died in a plane crash in 1996.