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Abacha’s son indicted for money laundering

Mohammed Abacha could answer the Swiss money laundering charges in Nigeria Keystone Archive

A Geneva prosecutor has indicted a son of the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, for money laundering. The charges were brought at the end of an investigation into missing funds allegedly salted away by Mohammed Abacha.

The investigating judge, Georges Zecchin, confirmed on Friday that Abacha’s son and a Nigerian businessman had been named in the indictment, which contains additional charges of belonging to a criminal organisation and fraud.

He added that Swiss bank accounts containing SFr750 million ($440 million) had been frozen in relation to the case.

Abacha, who is currently serving a prison term in Nigeria, is unlikely be able to attend a trial in Switzerland. That means the Geneva authorities have the option of trying him in absentia, or handing the case over to the Nigerian courts.

Abacha recently scored a legal victory against the Geneva authorities, after Switzerland’s Federal Court supported his efforts to prevent Swiss prosecutors from passing information about the Abacha family’s assets to Nigeria.

The Nigerian authorities had been given unlimited access to legal files. The Geneva investigators were told to take measures to prevent further access until a legal assistance agreement was in place between the two countries.

Nigeria is attempting to recover $4 billion in state assets that Sani Abacha and his family are thought to have stashed in Switzerland and other European countries.

Switzerland froze suspected Abacha funds worth SFr1.4 billion in 1999 at the request of the Nigerian government. Abacha is believed to have systematically plundered funds from Nigeria’s central bank during his five years in office.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR