The stakes are high in the planned distribution of US$322 million in stolen Nigerian public money.
Of the estimated US$20-40 billion stolen annually from developing countries and hidden abroad every year, sometimes a small proportion is successfully confiscated and returned to the country it came from.
In Nigeria, plans are in motion to distribute US$322 million recovered in Switzerland from the late General Sani Abacha, the country’s former military ruler. Abacha is suspected of looting between US$3 and $5 billion in public money.
Where institutions of accountability are not working well, such cases pose a complex problem: how to make sure that the money is not embezzled again, and actually benefits the real victims of corruption – the ordinary people whose state finances were plundered. In 2006, US$723 million illicitly acquired by Abacha’s family was returned to Nigeria from Switzerland. A significant amount of these funds remains unaccounted for.
That past experience led Switzerland to controversially […]