ABUJA (Reuters) – Authorities in Switzerland are in talks to arrange the return to Nigeria of $300 million confiscated from the family of its former military ruler, Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s foreign minister said.
The corruption watchdog Transparency International has accused Abacha of stealing up to $5 billion of public money during his five years running the oil-rich nation, from 1993 until his death in 1998.
Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said $700 million had already been repatriated from Switzerland, adding that he met Swiss representatives last week for further talks.
“They have also now recovered, in the same context, another $300 million of which there is ongoing discussion to have that repatriated as well,” he told journalists on Monday.
In 2014, Nigeria and the Abacha family reached an agreement for the West African country to get back the funds, which had been frozen, in return for dropping a complaint against Abba Abacha, the son of the former military ruler.
He was charged by a Swiss court with money-laundering, fraud and forgery in April 2005, after being extradited from Germany, and subsequently spent 561 days in custody. In 2006, Luxembourg ordered that funds held by the younger Abacha be frozen.
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May, has made tackling corruption a priority. He has asked the Britain and the United States for help recovering money stolen from Africa’s biggest economy by some of the country’s elite over several years.