The Nigerian government has now reclaimed over $1 billion believed stolen by former President General Sani Abacha

Story highlights

Swiss government reclaimed funds from the family of former President Sani Abacha.

Abacha accused of stealing over $4 billion during his five years in office

World Bank will oversee dispersal of funds, including on social programs

CNN  — 

The Swiss government is to return $321 million to Nigeria that was seized from the family of former President Sani Abacha.

The assets were confiscated as part of criminal proceedings against Abba Abacha, son of Sani, who ruled Nigeria for five years until his death in 1998.

Nigerian investigators believe the former president stole more than $4 billion during his time in office.

The Swiss government released a statement Monday announcing that agreement had been reached with officials from the Nigerian government and the World Bank on the terms of restitution.

“The restitution of funds will take place within the framework of a project supported and overseen by the World Bank,” the statement said. “The project will strengthen social security for the poorest sections of the Nigerian population.”

The government of Nigeria made its own statement thanking international partners and vowing to continue its anti-corruption drive, a core policy of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

“We are grateful for the international support we’re getting in the fight against corruption. Global collaboration is critical to the success of the fight…We will continue to work to deepen mechanisms not just for asset recovery but for preventing corruption in the first place.”

Switzerland has already recovered around $700 million of Abacha-related assets to date.

Nigeria is also pursuing $480 million that has been seized in the US, but faces a laborious legal process to reclaim it.

Nigeria is one of four countries being prioritized for asset recovery assistance at the inaugural Global Forum on Asset Recovery, currently being held in Washington DC.

The country lost $400 billion to corruption between 1960 and 1999, according to estimates cited by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).