Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Leftovers from the Abacha era

An Abacha-era official, with ties to a potential presidential candidate, is jailed in Jersey (not New Jersey). It's the tip of the Abacha kleptocracy iceberg. Other tips have shown up in Switzerland.

Jersey court jails former Nigerian dictator's business associate
In the 12 years since Nigeria's corrupt dictator General Sani Abacha died in office, investigators have struggled to find out what happened to the estimated £2.2bn he siphoned out of his country's coffers during his brutal five-year rule.

Though at least $700m (£470m) has been returned to Nigeria, only a handful of people have ever been put on trial for their role in the brazen kleptocracy.

But in a historic move, a court in Jersey has sentenced one of Abacha's business associates to six years in the island's only jail, after he deposited in a St Helier bank account tens of millions of pounds from a deal to provide overpriced trucks to the Nigerian army…

The money came from selling military vehicles to the Nigerian government at up to five times their actual price between 1996 and 1997 and then using the profit to pay bribes to top Nigerian officials, including Abacha and allegedly Colonel Mohammed Buba Marwa, Nigeria's current high commissioner to South Africa and a man touted as a future Nigerian president.

These two men were said to have received $100m (£66m), while Bhojwani's cut of the deal, according to the prosecution, was US$43.9m (£29.4m)…

Bhojwani himself never denied agreeing to overprice the trucks, but in a letter to the court maintained that his profit from the deal was actually around $25m (£16.6m), which grew to $43.9m (£29.4m) as a result of the way he invested it. While acknowledging that what he did was wrong, he said it was impossible to do business in Nigeria during Abacha's reign without paying enormous bribes…



Abacha family sues FG over criminal charge in Geneva
Two sons of the late Sani Abacha Mohammed and Abba, on Wednesday dragged the federal government before a Federal High Court, Abuja challenging the circumstances under which a criminal case was initiated against them in Geneva, Switzerland…

During the investigation, statements were obtained from the Abacha family by the investigative panel led by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Peter Gana.

However, Mohammed and Abba said they “were not informed that the true purpose for which their statements were sought was to provide evidence for an investigation and their possible prosecution by the states of Jersey, the Authorities of Leichtenstein, United Kingdom, Luxembourg, France, the Bahamas and Switzerland...

The Abacha family is aggrieved that government reneged on its promised not to prosecute the family even after they had forfeited some $625,263,187.19 and 70,087,184.93 pounds as well as some assets in line with Decree 53, 1999…



Court rules Abacha son guilty
A Geneva court has sentenced the son of former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha to a two-year suspended sentence for belonging to a criminal organisation.

Abba Abacha had been appealing against a 2009 guilty verdict on those charges as well as the court seizure of over $400 million in assets linked to his father, who died in 1998…

Abacha, 41, was accused of plundering his country’s accounts while his father was in power in the 1990s.

The court said that he had been part of the family structure set up by his father to pillage Nigerian resources.

According to the lawyer representing Nigeria, Abacha stashed over $400 million in the Bahamas and Luxembourg – assets that will now be confiscated following the court’s decision.

The Nigerian government is expected to ask for the funds to be handed over.

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