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Published 27th October 2000

Vol 41 No 21


Nigeria

High street havens

The search for Abacha's stolen money has led to several major Western banks and is at last forcing their governments to act

Investigators pursuing some US$3 billion of funds stolen by the late General Sani Abacha's regime between 1993-98 have established that the cash was deposited in more than 30 major banks in Britain, Germany, Switzerland and the United States without any intervention from those countries' financial regulators. The failure of the regulators to act even after specific banks and corporate accounts were named in legal proceedings in Britain and congressional hearings in the USA points to a lack of will by Western governments to crack down on corrupt transfers (AC Vol 40 No 23). Quarrels between different departments - with trade and finance officials trying to block any public disclosure of the illicit flows - delayed government action. None of the banks named so far as accepting deposits from Abacha's family and associates - Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, Bankers Trust, Barclays, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Merrill Lynch, National Westminster Bank and Paribas - have been formally investigated nor had any disciplinary action taken against them. It was not until this week, more than two years after Abacha's death, that Britain's Financial Services Authority announced an investigation into how its money laundering controls had failed to block the flow of stolen Nigerian state funds through the City of London. This is several months after a formal request for assistance was made by Nigerian government investigators. Similar requests have been made to the German, US and Swiss authorities but so far only the Swiss have responded by setting up their own investigation. The bulk of the $3 bn. is reckoned to be in Switzerland, some of which has passed through the accounts of the Swiss affiliates of multinational companies.


Power and greed

Privatisation is keenly favoured by the international community and - for quite different reasons - by Nigeria's own business people. President Olusegun Obasanjo's privatisation pl...


Oduduwa's children

Some of the fiercest opposition to President Obasanjo comes from his western region

President Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba, is a Nigerian first. His efforts to reestablish the nation after two decades of misrule are now at risk from violence involving its two bigge...


Gadaffi's prime time

Western governments reopen business with Tripoli but the Colonel hasn't changed

Rarely can Moammar el Gadaffi have felt so secure. Even thinking United States politicians now accept that an end to sanctions is inevitable, whoever wins the November presidential...


Conditional offers

Fresh peace initiatives for the Democratic Republic of Congo look pointless, as government, rebels and their respective sponsors gear up for more fighting. The last regional summit...


Family affairs

The family of Colonel Moammar el Gadaffi is the centre of political attention. Doyenne of the Gadaffi Al-Dam branch is the Guide's wife, Safia el-Brassai, who emerged in public las...


Going straight - again

Yet another economic reform programme is riding on the oil boom

Is President José Eduardo dos Santos' government, slopping around in oil revenues, serious about economic reform at last? Luanda officials claim it is, pointing to Dos Santo...



Pointers

Milosevic effect

The flight of military leader General Robert Gueï to Benin and the assumption of the Presidency by Laurent Gbagbo, the winner of the 22 October election, solves one problem bu...


Bobodan's battles

Two weeks of mass opposition protests and clashes with the army and police have further weakened President Robert Mugabe and his opponents draw parallels with the overthrow of Yugo...


Preferment

The sacking and subsequent police questioning of Michael Lunt, an Egypt desk officer at Britain's Department of Trade and Industry, raises new concerns about the accountabilty of B...