Nigeria Tracks Abacha's Loot

Ongoing probe    Global campaign

Swiss banks rapped over Abacha loot    The big freeze

 

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BBC NEWS, World: Africa

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Nigeria tracks Abacha's loot

Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK

General Sani Abacha

Abacha allegedly stole huge sums during his regime

Nigeria has asked Liechtenstein for help in recovering part of the £3bn it believes was embezzled by the late dictator Sani Abacha, and hidden in the principality.

Several bank accounts opened in Liechtenstein by Abacha and his entourage are suspected by the Nigerian government to contain £100m in stolen funds.

The moves follow the freezing of accounts at three banks in the principality by a Liechtenstein judge in June.

Liechtenstein's legal services department said authorities were now planning the next stage of the inquiry.

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Ongoing probe

Speaking from the Swiss capital Berne, a Nigerian diplomat confirmed a formal request had been made as part of an ongoing investigation.

"We are like plaintiffs before a judicial process," said the unnamed official.

"We believe they (the authorities) will be fair minded and just and take the necessary judicial actions."

In June, a report by the Organisation for Economic Development and Co-operation called Liechtenstein "unco-operative" in the global fight against money-laundering and tax-evasion.

The Liechtenstein government is now preparing new legislation and reforms which, it says, will stop its banks being used as hideaways for fraudulent funds.

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Global campaign

Nigeria's campaign to recover the stolen funds is taking place on a global scale.

In July, Switzerland returned a first installment of $64m of an estimated $600m hidden in the country during Abacha's five-year rule.

Accounts in Britain and Luxembourg are also under investigation.

Abacha's regime lasted from 1993 until his sudden death in June 1998.

He was succeeded by current President Obansanjo in May 1999, ending 15 years of military rule in Nigeria.

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Swiss banks rapped over Abacha loot

Monday, 4 September, 2000, 14:33 GMT 15:33 UK

Abacha's bank accounts have been frozen in Switzerland

Several leading banks in Switzerland have been criticised by the country's regulators for accepting money from the family of the late Nigerian military ruler, Sani Abacha.

The Nigerian Government is trying to recover an estimated $3bn in embezzled state funds sent abroad during General Abacha's five-year rule.

In a report, the Swiss Federal Banking Commission said 19 banks had dealings with his regime and, although they did report their suspicions of money-laundering to the Swiss authorities, they should not have accepted the money in the first place.

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Six banks - three branches of Crédit Suisse plus Crédit Agricole Indosuez, Union Bancaire Privée and MM Warburg - were singled out for failing to run adequate checks on new accounts, including those opened by General Abacha's two sons.

"The mere fact that significant assets of dubious origin, from people close to former Nigerian President Sani Abacha, were deposited at Swiss banks is highly unsatisfactory and damages the image of Switzerland as a financial centre," Banking Commission Chairman Kurt Hauri said after the 10-month investigation.

The big freeze

At Nigeria's request, Switzerland has frozen hundreds of millions of dollars held there, as have Luxembourg and Liechtenstein.

The commission said that almost a third of the Abacha money deposited with Swiss banks had first been banked in the UK, United States and Austria.

General Abacha ruled Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998 and, according to the current government, he used a circle of family members, close aides and business associates to dispose of the cash.

It was amassed by awarding contracts to front companies, accepting massive bribes and by siphoning money direct from the Nigerian treasury.

There are stories of vans delivering stacks of banknotes from the Central Bank to the homes of Abacha's family and friends.

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Who has Sani Abacha's millions? The BBC follows the money

Nigerian police rearrest Abacha son [on money laundering and fraud charges] • London implicated in Abacha probeSwitzerland to give back Abacha millions'Abacha family stole $4bn''Abacha accounts' to be frozenLuxembourg freezes Abacha accountsBritain goes after Abacha millionsAbacha family repays $150mDeal on Abacha's millions 'collapses'Switzerland gives back Abacha fundsBanks freeze more Abacha millionsAbacha adviser [Ismail Gwarzo] in corruption probeSwitzerland gives back Abacha fundsAbacha's $550m fortuneNigeria's missing millions