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Home News Economy Fresh $319m Abacha Loot in UK, France - US

Fresh $319m Abacha Loot in UK, France – US

The US embassy in Nigeria says another $319m (N121bn) looted by Sani Abacha, former military dictator, is in the United Kingdom and France.

This comes three days after Nigeria repatriated $311 million Abacha Loot from the US and the Bailiwick of Jersey.

In a statement on Wednesday, the US embassy revealed that there is a separate $167 million in stolen assets in France and another $152 million in the UK which is still subject to litigation.

“The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom,” the statement read.

According to a report by Bloomberg, the UK is challenging the return of the funds to Nigeria due to the alleged plan of the federal government to transfer $110 million out of the money to Atiku Bagudu, Kebbi state governor.

“The U.S. Department of Justice says Bagudu was involved in corruption with Abacha,” the report stated

According to the repor, the federal government is seeking the approval of a UK court to take possession of the assets before transferring seventy percent of the proceeds to Bagudu under the terms of an agreement signed in 2018.

However, the AGF has since denied the allegations stating that that Bagudu’s assets are not covered under the agreement which the federal government signed to recover funds looted by Abacha.

An estimate of $5 billion is said to have been stolen from Nigeria during Abacha’s five-year rule.

While previous Nigerian governments have repatriated billions of dollars looted by Abacha, who died in office in 1998, Buhari’s administration has said it is prevented from assisting the US’ ongoing forfeiture efforts by an agreement between Bagudu and the Obasanjo’s government in 2003.

The 2003 settlement, which was approved by a UK court, allowed Bagudu to return $163 million to Nigeria “without admitting to wrongdoing,” according to US court filings.

In return, the government dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him.

Bagudu was elected a senator in 2009 and the governor of Kebbi six years later.

Five years after the US launched fresh forfeiture proceedings against him, Bagudu and the Buhari administration struck a new accord in October 2018 to transfer ownership of the investment portfolios to the Nigerian state, which would immediately pay 98.5 million euros to the Kebbi governor and his affiliates.

Bloomberg said the terms of the updated settlement cannot be implemented while Nigeria’s application in a UK court is pending and a freezing order is still in place, according to a motion by Ibrahim Bagudu, who is entitled to a $100,000 annuity from the funds and is contesting the US confiscation efforts.

Meanwhile, the US has said the $311 million that was returned to Nigeria last week must be used by the for infrastructural development.

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