Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Swiss court orders retrial of son of Sani Abacha N54.88bn money laundering case


The highest court in Switzerland has ordered retrial of Abba Abacha, the son of ex- military ruler, Gen. Sani Abacha, who died in 1998, against the order of a lower court to return the sum of $350 million (about N54. 88 billion) illegally acquired by his family.

Following the inability of the son of the ex-military ruler to obtain a Swiss visa to attend the trial, Abba Abacha appealed against the earlier ruling ordering him to return the money and the highest court obliged him.

The Swiss Federal Tribunal annulled the sentence and ordered the retrial on the grounds that Mr. Abacha's rights had been violated and because of procedural irregularities.

A source said that the appeal started at a court in Geneva’s on Monday.

According to a Swiss  newspaper, LeTemps, Abba Abacha, who is currently in Nigeria, would not be attending the hearing.

He was said to have been refused a visa to go to Switzerland because he did not apply for it in time, the newspaper said. 

Jersey’s Royal Court had earlier sentenced an Indian, Raj Arjandas Bhojwani, believed to be in money laundering business deal with late Sani Abacha, to repay N26.5 million.

The convict laundered £28million through the Jersey branch of the Bank of India. He was jailed in 2010 for eight years, but in February, it was cut to six years for Bhojwani's good character.

The money was laundered in a business deal with the late Nigerian military dictator, who died in 1998.

The Royal Court ordered the confiscation of £26.5m and for  Bhojwani to contribute to the prosecution costs.

A statement released by the Royal Court said it represented the end of a long investigation into serious money laundering in Jersey.

HM Attorney General Timothy Le Cocq, QC, said: ‘This is not the first time the attorney general has brought a successful prosecution for money laundering and we hope that it will send out a clear message that Jersey will deal very seriously with such offences.’

The case began following an investigation into the activities of General Abacha.

The Moment

Related stories: Abacha's sons sue government over trial abroad

Sani Abacha's son convicted in Geneva, Swiss authorities’ confiscate $350m


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