Sani Abacha was the Head of State of ||Nigeria|| from 17 November 1993, when a military coup brought him to power, until his death on 8 June 1998. His regime was riddled with systematic corruption and misappropriation of public funds, as well as serious human rights violations, including arbitrary executions. Following the return of democracy in May 1999, the Federal Government of Nigeria initiated worldwide mutual assistance and criminal proceedings, which led to the recovery of more than USD 1 billion to date, with several additional hundreds of millions of US dollars still being the object of pending forfeiture proceedings.
14 October 1999
Press release of the Federal Office of Police announcing the freeze of accounts of the former Nigerian head-of-state Sani Abacha, members of his family and other parties following the announcement of an upcoming request for mutual assistance by Nigeria.
21 January 2000
Press release of the Federal Office of Police announcing that Switzerland is granting assistance to Nigeria and has frozen USD 80 million, and that the Geneva investigative magistrate's office has initiated criminal proceedings for money laundering and has frozen USD 645 million.
4 September 2000
The Swiss Federal Banking Commission (SFBC) released its report on the results of its comprehensive investigation into the business relations of 19 Swiss banks (named in the report) with the entourage of Sani Abacha.
7 December 2001
Decision 1A.157/2001 (in French) of the Swiss Federal Courtruling that as any victim of crimes applying to sue for damages in criminal proceedings, the Federal Republic of Nigeria was entitled to have access to the file of the Geneva criminal investigation and to use those documents in furtherance of its claims, notably in support of civil proceedings, requests for mutual assistance and criminal complaints, provided that the Federal Republic of Nigeria formally undertook not to use those documents, directly or indirectly, in criminal, civil or administrative proceedings in Nigeria until the end of the mutual assistance proceeding.
23 April 2003
Decision 1A.49-54/2002 (in French; English translation) of the Swiss Federal Court ruling that the evidence collected in Switzerland could be transmitted to the Nigerian authorities in support of their domestic criminal proceedings.
18 August 2004
Press release of the Federal Office of Justice, announcing its decision to return to Nigeria USD 500 million frozen in Switzerland: “Under the terms of the Swiss International Mutual Legal Assistance Act, assets may be returned on the basis of a legal enforceable seizure order from the applicant state. In exceptional cases – such as where the frozen assets are obviously of criminal origin – assets can be returned without such an order. On the basis of information and documentation from Nigeria and from the criminal proceedings in Geneva, the FOJ was able to follow the paper trail left by the USD 500 million of Abacha funds still frozen in Switzerland.”
7 February 2005
Decision 1A.215/2004 (in French; English translation here) of the Swiss Federal Court ruling that the USD 458 million may be returned to Nigeria as they are obviously of criminal origin. As to the balance of the funds frozen in Switzerland, the Abacha family and their accomplices formed a criminal organization, and the reversal of the burden of the proof of the origin of the assets provided for by Swiss criminal law is also applicable to mutual assistance proceedings. Consequently, all the frozen assets beneficially owned by a member of the criminal organization shall be returned to Nigeria unless the account holders demonstrate that they are not of criminal origin.
8 March 2001
In a press release, the Financial Services Authority (FSA) announced that it had completed its investigation into the handling by banks in the UK of accounts linked to General Sani Abacha: "The FSA investigation identified 42 personal and corporate account relationships linked to Abacha family members and close associates in the UK. These accounts were held at 23 banks which included UK banks and branches of banks from both inside and outside the European Union.In total, turnover on the 42 accounts amounted to US$1.3 billion for the four years between 1996 and 2000". The names of the 23 banks were not disclosed.
18 October 2001
In a  EWHC Admin 787 judgment, the Supreme Court of Judicature, Queen’s Bench Division (Divisional Court) dismissed the applications of Mohammed Sani Abacha and Abubakar Bagudu for judicial review challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to transmit evidence to Switzerland and Nigeria.
1 January 2004
Jersey Attorney General's Annual Review for 2003: "2003 saw Jersey's long running investigation into Nigerian corruption approach its climax. Working closely with the present Nigerian authorities, the U.S. authorities and countries across Western Europe, Serious Crime Group lawyers played a direct and crucial role in the repatriation of some U.S.$160 million of money embezzled from the people of Nigeria and channelled through Jersey by the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha, and his henchmen." (pp. 6-7).
1 March 2004
Press release of the Jersey Financial Services Commission on the investigation into the involvement of financial institutions in the Island with General Sani Abacha and other Nigerian residents in positions of power. The names of the financial institutions were not disclosed.
25 June 2010
In a JRC116 judgment of the Royal Court, an Indian businessman convicted on three counts of money laundering was sentenced to six years' imprisonment on each count, to run concurrently, in respect of the dishonest inflation by between 400 and 500% at the behest of General Sani Abacha of contracts for the purchase of motor vehicles sold to Nigeria in 1996 and 1997 for US$184 million, which were in truth worth about US$38 million, the making of false representations in that respect, the obtaining of dishonestly inflated payments for the vehicles out of Nigerian public funds, the dishonest payment of almost US$100 million in bribes from the sale proceeds to Swiss bank accounts connected to General Sani Abacha and other Nigerian public officials involved in the award of the vehicle supply contracts, and the conversion in 2000 of the proceeds of such criminal conduct, about US$40 million, for the purpose of avoiding prosecution when the mediaannounced that the Swiss authorities had launched a money laundering investigation and had identified the Swiss accounts into which the defendant had paid the bribes.
11 February 2011
In a judgment JCA034, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal of the Indian businessman against his conviction and sentencing.
7 June 2011
The Government of Jersey announced in a press release that the Royal Court made a confiscation order in the sum of £26.5 million against the assets of the Indian businessman and that the Jersey authorities would initiate discussions with the government of Nigeria regarding the repatriation of the confiscated funds.
See also the StAR Asset Recovery Watch, a compilation of corruption recovery cases compiles by the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, a joint program of the World Bank Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
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