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Feb 11, 2007
Swiss return first Abacha funds

BBC News Online
Tuesday, 14 December, 1999, 13:08 GMT

Sani Abacha ruled Nigeria from 1993 until his death in 1998
Officials in Switzerland have approved the return of some $88m (£50m) linked to Nigeria's late General Sani Abacha.
Since 1999, more than $600m connected to the former military leader has been frozen in bank accounts in Switzerland.

The Nigerian government wants all the money released as soon as possible, but Swiss officials say this can't be done until investigations are completed.

General Abacha is believed to have embezzled as more than $2bn from Nigeria whilst he was in power.

Possible appeal

Yves Klein, a Nigerian government lawyer told AP news agency that the decision by Geneva prosecutors to transfer the money to an account at the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, was reached on Wednesday.

More than $600m was frozen in Swiss accounts
"It's the first time money has been returned [by the Swiss] that is directly linked to the Abacha family," he said.

The Abacha family are examining the possibilities of appealing against the decision to transfer the money.

Last month, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala visited Swiss officials to try to speed up the return of the money.

He also announced that banking authorities in Jersey had returned $149m of Abacha's money to Nigeria.

Switzerland has already handed over to Nigeria's authorities a large number of records.

Officials say they hope to return the remaining amount by the end of next year once they have established where the money came from.
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