Swiss Court Convicts Abacha’s Son; Seizes $350m

Gen Sani Abacha

Sani Abacha is believed to have embezzled $2.2bn

The Son of Nigeria’s former dictator, Sani Abacha was convicted in Switzerland today.  Abba Abacha was convicted of being a member of a criminal organisation and given a suspended custodial sentence.

A Swiss court ordered the seizure of $350m (£212m) in assets from the son of Nigeria’s former military ruler, General Sani Abacha.

The son of former the Nigerian military ruler Sani Abacha was charged with money laundering and fraud after being extradited to Switzerland.


Switzerland began investigating the Abacha family in 1999 and has so far handed back about $700m to Nigeria.  

Investigating judge Daniel Dumartheray said that Abba Sani Abacha was wanted in connection with the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars.

He was extradited from Germany, where he was arrested in 2004.Mr Dumartheray told the BBC News website that the Swiss authorities had been seeking Abba Abacha since 1999.

The Swiss authorities pursued Abba Abacha for six years before extraditing him from Germany in 2005 and geld in Geneva prison. He was charged with aggravated money laundering, participation in a criminal organisation and embezzlement.Nigerian state lawyers believe Sani Abacha, who ruled from 1993 until his death in 1998, may have stolen $2.2bn. 

“The examining magistrate sentenced him to a suspended jail term, and ordered the confiscation of his assets of $350m,” Geneva canton’s justice office said in a statement.”

The money is held by his criminal organisation and seized through international assistance in Luxembourg and the Bahamas.”

BBC Correspondents say Abba Abacha can appeal against the judgement. In February 2005, Switzerland announced that it was returning to Nigeria $458m invested in its banks by Abacha.

The Abacha family failed in a last-ditch court appeal to prevent the money being handed back to Nigeria.Switzerland agreed last August to hand over the money – which has been in frozen accounts since Abacha’s death – and said an inquiry proved it had criminal origins.

As well as Switzerland, Nigeria is looking for money in the UK, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and the US.