Government of Nigeria, the Swiss Federal Council and the World Bank have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the repatriation and monitoring of $321 million of funds illicitly acquired by the family of the late former President of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha.
The MOU was signed during the Global Forum on Asset Recovery, a three-day forum hosted by the United Kingdom and the United States with support from the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative.
The MOU captures the tripartite agreement on the World Bank’s monitoring role and the proposed modalities of the funds repatriation and disbursement, following a December 2014 Swiss court order that the funds be repatriated.
The responsibility for the use of the funds is with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Nigerian authorities requested the funds be used to support a program of targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable Nigerians under the National Social Safety Net Project financed by a credit extended by the International Development Association.
The parties have agreed to establish monitoring framework for the use of the repatriated funds that will enhance transparency and accountability.
To that end, the Federal Government of Nigeria will engage civil society organizations to help monitor the use of the funds.
In December 2014, a Swiss court ruled that the Swiss government should repatriate the funds on condition that the World Bank would monitor their use.
On December 4th, 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Swiss Federal Council and the World Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) capturing the tripartite agreement on the World Bank’s monitoring role and the modalities of the funds repatriation and disbursement.
While the World Bank’s role is limited to monitoring the use of the funds, the responsibility for the use of the funds is with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In 2006, the World Bank was involved in a similar effort providing institutional support for the sustainable use of repatriated funds from Switzerland amounting to approximately $723 million, which was illicitly acquired by the late General Sani Abacha’s family.
What is the World Bank doing to help countries like Nigeria recover stolen assets?
Through our partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, we are providing advice and helping countries recover stolen assets. The core of StAR’s work lies in country engagements that aim at building the capacity of the various stakeholders engaged in asset recovery and facilitating international cooperation on asset recovery cases. Country engagement programs are generally longer-term, and delivered using mentors, advisory services and training.
In December 2017, StAR provided organizational support for the Global Forum on Asset Recovery, which was hosted by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom. This forum addressed the importance of strong political commitment and collaboration among practitioners, focusing on assistance to Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine as first priority countries.
The World Bank is also actively working with countries to strengthen transparency and accountability and to reduce illicit financial flows.
It is working to improve access to information on beneficial owners for public authorities and strengthen the exchange of tax information.
The World Bank is also helping governments build systems for asset disclosure by public officials and to protect against money laundering. These efforts to build transparency and accountability also aim to ensure that clean public officials and business are recognized, while corrupt and criminal ones are sanctioned.