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14 Dec 2017

Nigeria To Pay Over $50m To Swiss Government And Lawyers As Cost Of Recovering $321m Abacha Loot

Nigeria is reportedly set to pay as much as $50 million to the Swiss government and lawyers in order to recover $321 million Abacha loot.
Sani Abacha
Acccording to a report by SaharaReporters, the Federal Government of Nigeria will pay a sum of about $50million as the cost of recovery of the country’s funds stolen and stashed abroad by a former military dictator, late General Sani Abacha, his family and associates. The cost of recovery is contained in details of the negotiations for the recovery of assets obtained by Saharareporters which spelt out the deal between the Federal Government with the authorities of Switzerland and other parties, including lawyers involved in the process.

The details, exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, indicate that Nigeria will pay 3million Swiss Francs to the State of Geneva, Switzerland to cover its expenses. It will also pay $9,703,141.67, equivalent of 4 percent of the gross amount of $242,578, 541.72 recovered in Liechtenstein in December 2013 and June 2015. Equally, the Nigerian government will pay 4 percent of the gross amount of the forfeited Luxemburg assets, a figure to be determined in due course by Messrs. Enrico Monfrini and Christian Luscher and in their favour as their professional fees and expenses.

In addition, the Federal Government will pay the Swiss Francs equivalent of $6,792,199.17 of the gross amount recovered from Liechtenstein in 2013 and 2014 as well as 2.8 percent equivalent of the forfeited Luxemburg assets to Mr. Monfrini. The exact figure, the documents stated, will be provided in due course by Messrs. Monfrini and Luscher as settlement of the fees and expenses of lawyers to the Abacha family.

Also to be paid to Mr. Monfrini is the Euro equivalent of the sum of $5million as retainer fee for the legal action to be filed against MM Warbug and Co SA and other potential defendants. The sum of $750,000 will equally to be paid to an advisory firm, HBK Investments Advisory SA in settlement of their professional fees in relation to the management of the Luxemburg assets. The negotiation details equally stated that the balance of the forfeited Luxemburg assets be converted to dollars and paid into a special recovery account of the Federal Government with the Bank for International Settlements, Basle, Switzerland.

Before the payment is made, the documents stated, Mr. Monfrini should, at least a week in advance, be notified of the exact dollar amount and value of the transfer via a letter confirming that the funds were forfeited in the context of the Abacha proceedings and are being transferred an allocation to Nigeria.

In addition, the forfeited shares of companies holding the Luxemburg assets should be remitted to Mr. Monfrini.

The details were contained in a letter by Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to Mr. Oliver Journot, Attorney-General of Geneva. Dated 14 July 2014, the letter confirmed to the Swiss authority that Nigeria on the one hand and Mohammed Sani Abacha, Abba Abacha and their affiliates, on the other, had entered into a repatriation agreement. The letter indicated that the Luxembourg fund formed part of the asset, which parties agreed to forfeit and repatriate to the Federal Government.

Also, the Federal Government, via a letter dated 6 January 2016, through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) appointed Messrs.  Oladipo Okpeseyi (SAN) and Temitope Isaac Adebayo of Tope Adebayo LLP to represent the it in attending meetings, negotiating the settlement and taking other steps necessary under the international mutual legal assistance to recover monies looted by General Abacha, his family and associate. The lawyers were to ensure the repatriation of the approximately $300million hitherto held by the Canton of Geneva in Switzerland. 

In a letter addressed to Mr. Michael Lauber, Attorney-General of Switzerland Messrs. Okpeseyi and Adebayo said all the payments directed in the former Attorney-General’s letter were made by the Swiss authority on or about 23 December, 2014, leaving the funds meant for Federal Government unpaid. In the letter, dated 4 February 2016, the lawyers said they understood that the Luxembourg fund, previously held by the Canton of Geneva, had come under the control of  Swiss Federal Authorities in Berne and that same has been transferred to a designated account under Mr. Lauber’s control.

The lawyer’s also stated that Nigeria is willing to provide a comprehensive plan of how the fund will be utilized.

“Having learnt a great deal from the experience of Nigeria’s recent history in recovering looted funds through the assistance and co-operation of foreign countries, we note that you may want to have a statement of use to which the funds will be deployed upon release of same to Nigeria. Consequently, we have advised the Federal Government of Nigeria to immediately come up with a full plan for the utilization of the monies and a proposed supervision mechanism,” said the lawyers.

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