Authorities in Jersey say they have seized more than $267 million from the family and associates of late Nigerian military dictator Sani Abacha.
According to Jersey’s Civil Asset Recovery Fund, the laundered funds recovered from confiscated assets, belonging to the son of the late dictator, Mohammed Abacha, were “derived from corruption” during the military leader’s rule in Nigeria.
The money was found in a Channel Islands account held by shell company Doraville Properties Corporation.
It had been frozen by a federal court in Washington in 2014 at the request of prosecutors pursuing criminal proceedings against Mohammed Abacha and his associates.
The stolen funds have now been recovered and paid into a special recovery fund after a five-year legal battle. The fund will be shared between the Nigerian government, Jersey and the US government, according to Jersey authorities overseeing the case.
Robert MacRae, Jersey’s attorney general, said in a statement that freezing the assets demonstrated Jersey’s “commitment to tackling international financial crime and money laundering.”
CNN contacted Abacha’s son for comments over the allegations but has yet to receive a response.
Sani Abacha came into power in 1993 and ruled Nigeria with an iron grip until his death in 1998. Activists who criticized his regime were imprisoned for months, with some put to death. Opposition leaders were jailed under his leadership.
Abacha’s regime came under fierce international criticism when he executed popular playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other activists, who came to be known as the Ogoni 9.
The men were charged with murdering four men and were convicted and sentenced to death at a special tribunal. Throughout, Saro-Wiwa maintained that he was being framed for criticizing Abacha’s regime.
The former president, who lived a lavish lifestyle, is reported to have stolen over $4 billion during his five years in office through his family and allies.
In 2017, the Swiss government reclaimed funds of $321 million from Abacha’s family and has recovered around $700 million of Abacha-related assets to date.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari in a recent interview said his government has recovered some of the country’s stolen wealth stashed by corrupt politicians in banks abroad.
Buhari, however, said prosecutors have faced challenges that have slowed down the recovery process.
Nigeria lost $400 billion to corruption between 1960 and 1999, according to estimates cited by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).