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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 February, 2005, 16:39 GMT
Nigeria to receive Abacha funds
By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News, Bern

Gen Sani Abacha
Sani Abacha is believed to have embezzled $2.2bn
Switzerland is returning to Nigeria $458m invested in its banks by former Nigerian military leader Sani Abacha.

It comes after the Abacha family failed in a last-ditch court appeal to prevent the money being handed back to Nigeria.

Switzerland agreed last August to hand over the money - which has been frozen since Abacha died in 1998 - and said an inquiry proved it had criminal origins.

An agreement was worked out under which Nigeria's government promised to invest the returned money in the country.

The funds will be spent on development projects, such as hospitals, schools and roads.

Although the ruling by Switzerland's highest court opens the way for the bulk of the cash to be returned to Nigeria, a further $40m will remain frozen until the Abacha family can prove it was not obtained illegally.

Switzerland is currently seeking the extradition of Sani Abacha's son, Abba Abacha, from Germany on suspicion of money-laundering and fraud.

Lawyers for the Nigerian government believe Sani Abacha may have taken up to $2.2bn (1.8bn) during his rule from 1993 until his death in 1998.

As well as Switzerland, they are looking for the money in Britain, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the United States.

Swiss return first Abacha funds
19 Dec 03 |  Africa
Nigeria recovers 'stolen' money
27 Nov 03 |  Business
Nigeria closes in on missing cash
20 Aug 03 |  Business
Timeline: Nigeria
25 Sep 03 |  Country profiles

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