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 Tuesday, 9 May, 2000, 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK
Luxembourg freezes Abacha accounts
Eight of Abacha's bank accounts have been frozen
The authorities in Luxembourg say they have frozen bank accounts belonging to the late Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha containing more than $600 million.

The Luxembourg deputy state prosecutor, Georges Heisbourg, said that eight accounts in a Luxembourg subsidiary of an unnamed German bank were blocked.

They were in the name of different offshore oil companies linked to General Abacha, who ruled Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998.

An investigation by Luxembourg officials, conducted at the request of the Nigerian Government, found that two of General Abacha's sons profited from the companies.

"The funds confiscated correspond to money diverted into the pocket of the Abacha family," Mr Heisbourg said.

"Searches have been carried out and the case is soon to be sent to the Nigerian Government," he said.

In Nigeria, officials gave a cautious welcome to the reports.

"If this is true it is excellent news," said Doyin Okupe, spokesman for Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Switzerland

The freezing of the accounts follows a similar move by the authorities in Switzerland last year.

Enrico Manfrini, a Swiss lawyer who is working with the Nigerian Government, has said that a total of more than $2 billion was embezzled and deposited in Switzerland by General Abacha and senior officials of his regime.

But the elected government that succeeded military rule in Nigeria believes billions more has been stolen and smuggled abroad.

Diverting money

The current administration says General Abacha used a circle of family members, close aides and business associates to dispose of the cash.

It was amassed by awarding contracts to front companies, accepting massive bribes, and by siphoning money direct from the Nigerian treasury.

There are stories of vans delivering stacks of banknotes from the Central Bank to the homes of Abacha's family and friends

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14 Dec 99 | Africa
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