U.S. okays NSIA to manage $318m Abacha loot

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THE Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) will manage the $318 460,329 Abacha loot, the repatriation of which was secured last Tuesday by the Federal Government after sealing a pact with the United States (U.S.) and the Island of New Jersey.

Two letters from the U.S. Departments of State and Justice confirmed the choice of NSIA to manage the recovered loot, it was learnt on Sunday.

The Department of Justice on its part noted that an agreement was reached with the Federal Government that the NSIA should administer the funds “to ensure transparency and accountability”.

Other terms in the tripartite agreement include “financial review by an independent auditor, and monitoring by an independent civil society organisation with expertise in engineering and other areas.

“The agreement also precludes the expenditure of funds to benefit alleged perpetrators of the corruption or to pay contingency fees for lawyers.”

A source at the NSIA confirmed to The Nation that the agency has been authorised to manage the loot stating: “this is a vote of confidence in the NSIA by both the U.S. and Jersey governments.”

The source noted: “The NSIA’s strong corporate governance systems and compliance with global standards in transparency has made us one of the few institutions deemed worthy to manage repatriated funds.

“The U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Departmemt of State and Island of Jersey Department of State all subject NSIA to a significant level of scrutiny and went through nearly two years of due diligence before this outcome could be arrived at. The outcome is an endorsement of the authority’s effectiveness and efficient operational systems.”

According to the letter from the Department of Justice, “Gen. Abacha and his cronies robbed Nigerians of vast public resources and abused the U.S. and international financial systems to launder their criminal proceeds.”

The Department of Justice went on to state that “the United States is also continuing to seek forfeiture of over $177 million in additional laundered funds held in trusts that name Abacha associate … and his relatives as beneficiaries.”

The U.S. government has also “asked the government of Nigeria to withdraw the litigation it instituted in the United Kingdom (UK) that hinders the U.S. effort to recover these additional funds for the people of Nigeria.”

Besides the more than $308 million forfeited in the Island of New Jersey, “the Department of Justice wants to enforce its forfeiture judgment against approximately $30 million located in the UK and over $144 million in France.”

Under the agreement signed between, the U.S., governments of Jersey and Nigeria, the U.S. “will transfer 100 per cent of the net forfeited assets to the Federal Republic of Nigeria to support three critical infrastructure projects in Nigeria that were previously authorized by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the Nigerian legislature.”

The complaint for the recovery of the loot, the Department of Justice said “alleges that Gen. Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate and others embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria and others, then laundered their criminal proceeds through U.S. financial institutions and the purchase of bonds backed by the United States.”

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