The United States of America (USA) has written the Federal Government for assistance to serve forfeiture notice on the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s son, Mohammed, an associate of the dictator, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and Dumez Nigeria Plc.
The defendants are to forfeit over $550million and £95,910, 222.84(million) in 10 accounts and six investment portfolios linked to the Abachas in France, the Britain, British Virgin Islands and the United States.
Abacha has up till today(March 25, 2014) to file an application before the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia to either set aside the forfeiture order or vary it.
Failure to file a counter-application or ask for a stay will lead to the automatic forfeiture of the cash and other assets today.
The letter contains a breakdown of some of the accounts and investment firms/ banks where the looted funds were stashed abroad.
The highlights are as follows: Doraville Properties Corporation – $287 million in Account Number 80020796 located at Deutsche Bank International Limited in the Bailiwick of Jersey; HSBC Fund Administration (Jersey) – $12 million in account number S-104460 in the Bailiwick of Jersey; and Rayville International, S. A – $1 million in account number 223405880IUSD at Banque SBA in Paris, France.
Others are: Standard Alliance Financial Services Limited – $144 million in account 223406510PUSD at Banque SBA in Paris; Mecosta Securities – $21.7 million in accounts 10030688 and 100138409 at Standard Bank in the United Kingdom; and HSBC Bank Plc – $1.6 million in account number 38175076.
Also listed are Blue Holding (1) Pte Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £6,806,900; Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £21,846,983; Blue Holding (1) Pte. Ltd/ Ridley Group Limited – £10,293,343.58; Blue Holding (2) Pte. Ltd/Ridley Group Limited – £56,962,996.26
In the letter to the Federal Government by the Associate Director, Criminal Division of the Office of International Affairs of the US Department of Justice, Jeffrey M. Olson, the US government said it sought the help of Nigeria in line with January 14, 2003 Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the two nations.
The letter, which was obtained by our correspondent, reads in part: “The United States Central Authority respectfully requests the assistance of the Central Authority of the Federal Republic of Nigeria pursuant to the Treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters (the Treaty).
“The United States’ request for assistance stems from forfeiture proceedings by the U.S. Department of Justice, Criminal Division, Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (the prosecutor) against property related to the corrupt conduct of Sani Abacha, the former head of state of Nigeria, and the subsequent laundering of corruption proceeds.
“ The United States is required by law to provide notice to natural or legal persons who may have an interest in property that is the subject of forfeiture proceedings, in order to give them an opportunity to file a claim.
“Therefore, the prosecutor requests that the Federal Republic of Nigeria provide notice of the pending forfeiture action to Mohammed Sani Abacha, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, and Dumez Nigeria Plc
“ The prosecutor also requests that the Federal Republic of Nigeria serve Mohammed Sani Abacha and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu with the record of proceedings under the United Kingdom Civil Jurisdiction and Judgement Act, which is needed in order to enforce the warrant of arrest in rem issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.”
In separate letters to Mohammed Abacha and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu by a counsel, Herbert Smith Freehills(LLP), the defendants were told that they have up till March 25 (today) to “set aside or vary the court order”.
The counsel warned that a breach of the forfeiture order might be punished with a fine or a term of imprisonment.
The letters said: “We act for the United States of America which, on 25 February 2014, obtained a freezing order from Mr. Justice Teare (the “Order”) in relation to assets held in the names of Mohammed Sani Abacha, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, Mecosta Securities Inc (“Mecosta”), Ridley Group Limited, Blue Holding (1) Pte Limited and Blue Holding (2) Pte Limited (together, the “Primary Respondents”)
“We enclose, by way of service upon you, a copy of the Order. The Order grants a freezing injunction over specified assets in the names of the Primary Respondents. These include the following assets (the Assets”) believed to be held in your name or in the name of Mecosta (see paragraph 5(1) to (3) of the Order)
“Any money (or other assets) in accounts in the name of Mecosta at Standard Bank Plc, including or traceable to account numbers 100130688 and 100138409.
“Any money (or other assets) in account at HSBC Bank Plc in your name, including traceable to account number 38175076 and
“Any money (or other assets) in accounts in your name at HSBC Life (Europe) Limited including or traceable to account number 37060762.
“You should read the Order carefully and also urgently take legal advice. Under the terms of the Order, you are prohibited from removing from England and Wales or in any way disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of the Assets, save with the consent of our client or the permission of the Court.
“We draw your attention to the Penal Notice on page one of the Order, the implication of which you may wish to discuss with your legal representatives. You should understand that breach of the Order may be contempt of court, which may be punished with a fine or a term of imprisonment.
“The Order lasts until 25th March 2014 (the Return Date), although you do have the right to apply to set aside or vary the Order in the meantime (see paragraph 7 of the Order). On the Return Date the applicant will apply for the Order to be continued. However, you must obey the order in its current terms until it has been set aside or its terms varied.
“The Order was made as part of legal proceedings in which you were named as a defendant. We therefore enclose, by way of service upon you, a sealed copy of the Claim Form and a Response Pack, a sealed copy of the Application Notice, the evidence in support at the hearing at which the Order was obtained, and the skeleton argument used at that hearing. A note of the hearing at which the Order was granted is also enclosed.
“We have not included the Bundle of Authorities referred to in the Skeleton Argument. However, please let us know if you require a copy of this.
“We also enclose a sealed copy of the Application Notice for the Return Date hearing in respect of the Order.” – The Nation.