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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 12:45 GMT 13:45 UK
Britain goes after Abacha millions
The City of London
London banks reportedly handled $1.3bn belonging to family and friends of General Abacha.
The British High Court has given the government the go-ahead to help Nigeria trace more than $1bn allegedly looted by late dictator Sani Abacha.

Sani Abacha died in 1998, but the money is still missing
Abacha is suspected of looting huge sums
The decision came after lawyers failed to challenge a Home Office decision to help Nigerian and Swiss officials recover money said to have been traced to London.

The Press Association said the lawyers were acting for Mohammed Abacha, the dictator's son, and Abubakar Bagudu, Abacha's London-based partner.

Nigeria is trying to recover more than $3bn allegedly embezzled during General Abacha's rule which ended with his death in 1998.

Britain was asked last year to help recover the money.

Account freeze

Six months ago, Britain's financial watchdog, the Financial Services Authority, revealed that 23 London banks had handled $1.3bn belonging to family and friends of General Abacha.

Earlier this month, judicial authorities in Britain reportedly ordered some of the world's largest banks to freeze accounts believed to belong to the dictator.

Banks reportedly named
Deutsche Bank
Commerzbank
BNP Paribas
Credit Agricole
Credit Suisse
UBS
HSBC
Barclays
NatWest
Goldman Sachs
Merrill Lynch
Citibank
A court order seen by the Financial Times newspaper named a list of banks in the City of London in connection with the money.

A leader article in The Guardian newspaper of London criticised banks in London for dragging their feet in comparison to counterparts in Europe.

The article said that institutions in Europe had not only "named and shamed" banks, but had actively tried to expose General Abacha's criminal dealings.

Financial regulators around the world are now bolstering anti-money-laundering measures - cutting off the supplies to the groups believed to be behind the 11 September attacks in the United States.

The Abacha government is seen by many as the worst period in Nigeria's history, a time of crude military dictatorship and flagrant human rights abuses, the price of which was international condemnation and isolation.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Alhaji Abubakar Alhaji, Nigerian High Commissioner
explains what it means to his country to have the British courts' backing
See also:

03 Oct 01 | Africa
'Abacha accounts' to be frozen
10 Oct 01 | Business
UK is 'money launderers' paradise'
29 Sep 00 | Africa
Nigerian anti-corruption action
01 Aug 01 | Africa
Timeline: Nigeria
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