$2 BILLION ABACHA LOOT: Gov Bagudu, wife file suit to claim seized funds in US
Although Nigeria is yet to take steps to recover the $2 billion looted by the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha, which the United States government has seized, the Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and his wife, Aisha, have filed a suit seeking to recover the money as their own.
To claim the money, they filed separate court processes titled: “Verified Claim and Statement of Interest” on the loot at the District Court of Columbia, in the US.
Their joint attorney, Jonathan R. Barr (DC Bar No 437334) of the Baker & Hostetler LLP Chamber, whose law office is located at 1050 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suit 1100, Washington DC, filed the claims drawn up by the duo on May 1, 2004.
In the claim referring to suit number 13-CV-1832 (JDB), Bagudu and his wife asked for a reversal of the court’s verdict which had declared that the money was illicit fund laundered into the US and therefore forfeited to the American government.
Approaching the court through 18 USC 983 (a) (4) and Rule G (5) (a) of the Supplemental Rules for Admiralty or Marine Claims and Assets Forfeiture Actions of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Supplemental Rules), Bagudu stated that “I have a claim to and interest in the property alleged to be subject to forfeiture in this action.”
His wife made a similar declaration. The key actors in the loot, according to the court documents obtained by The AUTHORITY were: son of the late Head of State, Mohammed Sani Abacha, the incumbent Governor of Kebbi State, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, former National Security Adviser (NSA), Alhaji Ismaila Gwarzo, the current Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Mr. David Umaru, Alhaji Ahmadu Daura, former Minister of Finance, Chief Anthony Ani, Dumez Group, Doraville Properties Corporation, Eagle Alliance International Limited (Eagle Alliance), Mecosta Securities (Inc), Rayville International SA, Ridley Group Limited, Standard Alliance Financial Services Limited and Dumez Nigeria Limited.
The foreign banks involved in the financial mess were ANZ Banking Group, New York; Bankers Trust Company, New York; Barclays Bank, New York; Citibank NA, New York; Chase Manhattan Bank, New York; Chemical Bank, New York; Commerzbank AG, New York; Marine Midland Bank, New York (now HSBC USA, NA, and Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, New York (now JP Morgan Chase).
Within the shores of Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Inland Bank Plc and the Union Bank Plc, were among the banks which also played prominent roles in the intricate web of wire transfers that led to fleecing the country of the money, mainly obtained under false security vote letters by Gwarzo.
The District of Columbia Court had expressly stated that the aforementioned personalities and companies embezzled, misappropriated, defrauded and extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from the government of Nigeria and others, including the proceeds of those crimes through conduct in and affecting the US.
“The defendants in rem are subject to forfeiture as property involved in money laundering offences in violation of US law,” it said.
Our investigations showed that $287 million was deposited into account number 80020796 in the name of Doravile Properties Corporation located at Deutshe Bank International Limited in Bailiwick of Jersey.
Also, $12 million was deposited into account number S-104460 owned by Mohammed Sani (full names, Mohammed Sani Abacha) at the BSBC Fund Administration (Jersey) Limited in the Bailwick of Jersey. This was as $1 million was deposited into account number 2234058801USD in the name of Rayville International, SA at Banque SBA in Paris, France, among several of such fund deposit.
In Bagudu’s fund recovery claim which he executed and signed on April 25, 2004 in Abuja, he declared that “I Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, without waiving any rights to contest jurisdiction in this matter, submit this verified claim” pursuant to the rules of the court.
He continued: “I have a claim and interest in the property alleged to be subject to forfeiture in this action, including all assets held in the name of Blue Holding (1) Pte Ltd, on behalf of or traceable to Ridley Group Limited and or the Ridley Trust at J. O. Hambro Investment Management Limited in the UK and all interest, benefits, or assets traceable thereto.”
The governor declared that “the assets held in the name of Blue Holdings (1) and (2) are held in trust by a trust company through Blue Holdings (1) and (2) Pte Ltd, an investment vehicle, for the benefit of the beneficiaries of Blue Family Trust (1) and (2).
“That I am a beneficiary of the Blue Family Trust (1). Blue Family holds no other assets other than the assets held in the name of Blue Holdings (1) and (2).
“Any distributions by Blue Family Trust (1) and (2) to me or for my benefit are transferred directly from the assets held in the name of Blue Holdings (1) and (2), by virtue of the foregoing I have a beneficial interest and or other financial stake in the claimed property,” he said.
For the fact that a default judgment is already made, Bagudu stated that “pursuant to Supplemental Rule E (8), I appear before this court for the limited purpose of asserting and defending this claim in this in rem forfeiture action. My appearance does not constitute an appearance for any other purpose, nor do I consent to the jurisdiction of this court or any other court.”
Contents of a similar claim made by Aisha, Badudu’s wife, were exactly the same as her husband’s and was signed and executed on the same day after which the documents were served on Elizabeth A. Aloi, the Trial Attorney, Assets Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (Criminal Division), US Department of Justice, located at 1400 New York Avenue, Washington DC.
The claims were equally served on Barrister Charles C. Agwumezie, of the CAVAL Legal Group PLLC, 1629 K Street NW, Washington DC, one of the five Nigerian US-based lawyers who started the processes that led to the assets forfeiture on April 1 as earlier reported by The AUTHORITY.
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