The NCA (National Crime Agency) has recovered over $23 million siphoned from the Nigerian state in the 1990s by associates and family of the former Nigerian Head of State, General Sani Abacha. The money has been transferred to the Home Office with the ultimate intention for it to be repatriated for the benefit of the people of Nigeria.
The money recovered in the UK, through civil asset recovery, forms part of a larger pool of funds identified by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) as having been misappropriated by Abacha and his associates.
In March 2014, the DOJ froze more than $458 million in corrupt proceeds hidden in bank accounts around the world by the former Nigerian dictator and his co-conspirators. At the time, it was the largest such action in US history. General Abacha was never prosecuted.
Acting on a request from the DOJ, the NCA pursued nearly seven years of drawn out litigation and international negotiation to obtain the recovery order to enforce the US forfeiture order relating to the recovered monies. The funds have now been transferred to the Home Office.
The NCA case is ongoing with further monies having been identified by the DOJ.
General Abacha became president of Nigeria in a military coup in 1993 and ran the country until his death in 1998. He is remembered for his ruthless and corrupt leadership. He and his family siphoned over $1 billion USD from the state, and he oversaw a level of unprecedented state-directed violence, most notably captured in the execution of peaceful environmental rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa.
We previously reported that as part of the Amec Foster Wheeler Limited (Amec) Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), in February 2022 the SFO announced the payment of over £200,000 compensation to the people of Nigeria.
Bribery and corruption damages economic growth, free trade, security and stability. Returning some of the monies that have been embezzled to the people harmed by the abuses of office is a welcome step in the fight against dirty money.
If you require any information or advice on matters raised in this article please reach out to me or your usual contact at Ince.
The NCA is committed to ensuring that the UK is not a safe haven for criminals to launder their proceeds of crime, and civil recovery of assets is a powerful weapon in this fight.