Abacha son wins legal victory in Switzerland

The former Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, is said to have stasted $4 billion in accounts abroad Keystone Archive

The son of the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, has scored a legal victory over the Geneva authorities as the investigation continues into missing funds allegedly deposited in Switzerland by the Abacha family.

This content was published on June 22, 2001 - 12:29

On Friday, the Federal Court upheld a complaint by Sani Abacha junior and a second Nigerian against a Geneva magistrate.

The two men had challenged the magistrate's decision to pass on information to Nigeria before a ruling by the federal authorities on legal assistance to the central African country.

Nigeria is trying to recover $4 billion in missing assets believed to have been stashed by Abacha senior in Switzerland and other European countries.

Switzerland froze suspected Abacha funds worth SFr1.4 billion in 1999 at the request of the new Nigerian government. But earlier this year the economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, said Nigeria had to provide evidence that the money had been illegally diverted.

The information passed to Nigeria is thought to relate to criminal charges against Abacha junior and a businessman. The two men are under investigation in Geneva for belonging to a criminal organisation, money laundering and fraud.

The Federal Court said the Nigerian authorities had been given unlimited access to legal files and had been able to make copies of documents. It said the Geneva prosecutors should now take measures to prevent further access to the files.

Abacha, who died suddenly in 1998, is believed to have systematically plundered funds from Nigeria's central bank during his five-year term in office.

swissinfo with agencies

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