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Switzerland provides legal aid to Nigeria over Abacha assets

Switzerland is providing legal assistance to Nigeria to help it retrieve assets belonging to the late dictator, Sani Abacha. More than US$640 million held by Abacha and his associates in Swiss banks have been frozen.

This content was published on January 21, 2000 - 16:08

The Swiss authorities say they are providing legal assistance to Nigeria to help it recover assets belonging to the late dictator, Sani Abacha. More than US$640 million held by Abacha and his associates in Swiss banks have been frozen.

"We have decided to provide legal assistance to Nigeria in this case," said federal police spokesman, Folco Galli. "We also ordered and additional freeze of bank accounts." Galli added the office would work closely with magistrates in Geneva who have already opened an investigation into suspected money laundering.

Galli said the authorities froze an additonal $94 million, including assets in banks in Geneva and Zurich. That brings up to more $640 million the total amount of money blocked. But Galli also said he expected the magistrates to find more assets during the investigation.

The Swiss authorities ordered a provisional freeze of Abacha's accounts last October, following a provisional request from Nigeria. A lawyer for the Nigerian government said legal moves were also underway to investigate Abacha's possible assets in Luxembourg, France and Germany.

The Nigerian government accuses Abacha and his family of pillaging the country's central bank during his five-years in power. The military leader died of an apparent heart attack in 1998. During his time in power, Nigeria had the reputation of being highly corrupt.

From staff and wire reports

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