Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Nigeria/Switzerland: Swiss banks to help Nigeria get money back

The Finanicial Times today carried the story that Switzerland has "... declared itself willing to co-operate in Nigeria's efforts to recover funds worth $618m (€555m, £389m) stolen by Sani Abacha ...".

Sani Abacha ruled Nigeria from 1993 till his death in 1998. During that time, he stole $4 billion from the country. The Nigerian government has been trying to reclaim that money ever since.

Besides the $618 million in Swiss banks, another $630 million are stashed in banks in Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the UK ... and Nigeria is going after the banks in those countries as well.
Nigeria decided to seek confiscation of Abacha funds last year after a $1bn out of court settlement with the former dictator's family collapsed. Switzerland's federal office of justice said it had handed over bank documents to the Nigerian government's lawyers.

... An investigation by the Financial Times established how banks in London played a key role in Abacha's money laundering operation, and the revelations damaged the UK capital's status as a leading financial centre.
Nigeria's lawyer in Switzerland is expected to make an application for restitution within two weeks.