Ireland has signed a deal with Nigeria to return 5.5 million euros ($6.5 million) looted by former military dictator Sani Abacha. This was confirmed in a statement by Helen McEntee, Ireland’s Minister for Justice and Equality.
The statement reads: “I am very pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding between Ireland and Nigeria. This represents the culmination of a long process that began with an internationally led investigation.
“The Criminal Assets Bureau took part in this international operation which led to the freezing of over $1 billion in funds worldwide, of which approximately €5.5 million was identified in a Dublin based bank account.
“The return of these assets will be the first time that Ireland has taken such action and will be a concrete demonstration of Ireland’s commitment to international cooperation in the fight against corruption and to assisting countries which have been adversely affected by corruption in the past, and is in line with our international obligations as a signatory to the UN Convention Against Corruption.”
She said the MoU to return the loot was achieved by significant multi-agency collaboration in Ireland, adding: “It demonstrates the intent of both States to uphold our shared values and our international obligations to eliminate corruption.”
The money is the latest Abacha-linked cash reclaimed by Nigeria. Corruption watchdog Transparency International estimates that Abacha, who ruled Africa’s biggest oil producer from 1993 until his death in 1998, stole as much as $5 billion of public money during that time.
In May, Nigeria received just over $300 million in Abacha funds from the United States and the British dependency of Jersey, despite concerns raised by a powerful U.S. senator that it could be misappropriated.