Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-168
Sani Abacha / United Kingdom Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty Case
Nigeria
President (1993-1998)
United Kingdom
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location / Alleged Asset Location
2000
2004
Art.16, Art.17, Art.19, Art.20, Art.23
Yes
Actions Initiated by Foreign Jurisdiction
MLAT
MLAT
A 2001 judgment by the UK Courts backed the decision of The Home Secretary, thereby enabling various governmental bodies concerned, such as the Serious Fraud Office and the National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS), to proceed officially with their work. (Source: Tim Daniel and James Maton, "General Sani Abacha - a nation's thief," in Mark Pieth, ed., Recovering Stolen Assets [Peter Lang, 2008].)
Completed
Final Judgment (No Appeal)
No
N/A

According to Attorney Enrico Monfrini, in June 2000, a request for mutual assistance was lodged with the United Kingdom's Home Office, providing evidence of suspect transfers to London banks in excess of $1 billion. In May 2001, the Home Office decided to execute the Nigerian request, and the Abacha family sought judicial review. The family's application was rejected by the High Court on October 18, 2001. (Source: Enrico Monfrini, "The Abacha Case," in Mark Pieth, ed., Recovering Stolen Assets [Peter Lang, 2008] and Abacha & Ors & Secretary of State for the Home Department [2001] EWHC Admin 787 (18th October 2001)). As noted by Attorneys Tim Daniel and James Maton, in March 2001, United Kingdom's Financial Services Authority issued a press release which stated that a total of $1.3 billion was found to have passed through accounts in British banks controlled by the Abacha family." In 2004, the Home Office indicated that it was ready to submit evidence to Nigeria, the family again challenged the decision; "The challenge was rejected by the English High Court towards the end of 2004." (Source: Tim Daniel and James Maton, "General Sani Abacha - a nation's thief," in Mark Pieth, ed., Recovering Stolen Assets [Peter Lang, 2008] and United Kingdom Financial Services Authority Press Release, "FSA publishes results of money laundering investigation," FSA/PN/029/2001, March 8 2001).

According to a 2008 article by Attorney Enrico Monfrini, an appeal was pending before the Nigerian Supreme Court in the criminal cases arising from charges filed in 2000 and 2001 against Mr. Abacha's sons and associate. (Source: Enrico Monfrini, "The Abacha Case," in Mark Pieth, ed., Recovering Stolen Assets (Peter Lang, 2008), accessed at http://www.mcswisslaw.com/pages_e/2008%20Monfrini%20-%20The%20Abacha%20C....

Special Panel established to investigate Abacha looting
Home Department, Financial Services Authority; Serious Fraud Office
Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge (Attorneys James Maton and Tim Daniel)
High Court