Tuesday, 3 May 2016
Presidency is close to recovering $480m loot from United States
The Federal Government recently claimed that there is hope for Nigeria as it will soon draw down $480 million (N153.6 billion) looted by fraudulent Nigerians and warehoused in the United States of America.
The optimism stems from a recent comparison of notes between top US and Nigerian officials on the looted funds, which were spread in many banks and commercial ventures in America. The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, confirmed to Vanguard, weekend, that there had been an appreciable progress between officials of the two nations over the repatriation of the cash to Nigeria. Malami, Minister of Justice, explained that the decision to return the funds followed his recent visit to the US in company of acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, during which they met with the Department of Justice and other relevant agencies over the matter.
“The money that is due for immediate repatriation is $480 million (N95b) and we are confident that we have reached a point that it will be drawn down before long,” the minister said.
It was learned that the US had, however, given Nigeria some undisclosed conditions to meet before the money would be drawn down, apparently to prevent a repeat of what happened with such funds during previous administrations.
The Abacha cash is said to have been revealed, following the forfeiture hearings against the family and others conducted by the US Department of Justice, DoJ, over the years to track the funds from different banks and entities.
The proceedings made it possible for the Abacha family and its associates to forfeit over $550 million and £95,910 in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to them in France, Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States.
On efforts so far made to stem looting in Nigeria, Malami said: “I can tell you that the Buhari administration is leaving no stone unturned in ensuring that all looted Nigerian funds are retrieved and those found to have aided and abetted same brought to justice to serve as a deterrent to potential looters.’’
Malami was optimistic that the repatriation of the huge cash would send a clear and stern signal to corrupt Nigerians that there was no safe haven anywhere to keep stolen Nigerian funds.