Another $319m Abacha loot in UK, France – US

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The United States has revealed there is a separate $319m (N121bn) Abacha loot in the United Kingdom and France. This is coming just a week after assisting to repatriate $311m (N118bn) stolen by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha

This was made known by the US Embassy in Nigeria in a statement on Wednesday that there is $167m in stolen assets in France while there is a separate $152m in the United kingdom  which is receiving legal attention.

 “The funds returned last week are distinct and separate from an additional $167m in stolen assets also forfeited in the United Kingdom and France, as well as $152m still in active litigation in the United Kingdom.” The statement reads.

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According to reports in the media, that the repatriation of the $152m (now $155m due to interest) to Nigeria is being challenged by the UK and the US because of alleged plans by the Nigerian government to give $110m out of the money to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, a known associate of the late Abacha.

Nigeria is said to be seeking the approval of a UK court to take ownership of the assets before returning 70 percent of the proceeds to Bagudu under the terms of a 2018 deal, according to Bloomberg.

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Bagudu was part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria,” according to the US Department of Justice.

Bagudu was elected a senator in 2009 and the governor of Kebbi State six years later.

That 2003 settlement, which was approved by a UK court, allowed Bagudu to return $163m to Nigeria “without admitting to wrongdoing,” according to US court filings.

Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami (SAN), has, however, denied ever entering a deal with Bagudu but court papers say otherwise.

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The UK government’s National Crime Agency is also “opposing the Federal Republic of Nigeria’s application,” according to a motion filed by Bagudu’s brother, Ibrahim, to the District Court for the District of Columbia in the US capital on March 30.

The US Department of Justice said in February that its Nigerian counterpart is hindering its efforts to recover the allegedly laundered money from the UK

Abacha is estimated to have stolen as much as $5bn during his five-year rule.

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