On March 5, 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it had frozen over $458 million of ill-gotten assets that former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his co-conspirators had stashed in bank accounts across the globe.  The DOJ is seeking to recover almost $100 million more.  The largest-ever kleptocracy forfeiture action brought in the United States, this case is a victory for the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, a program launched by the DOJ Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section in 2010.  We wrote about the Initiative’s first-ever action here, brought in 2012, when the DOJ executed a forfeiture order of just over $400,000 against a former Nigerian governor.  And while the DOJ has seen great success in its actions against bribe-payers through the enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, initiatives to bring bribe-takers to justice have faced bumps in the road, probably because of the politically fraught and complex nature of such cases.
Continue Reading It Doesn’t Pay to Steal: In Largest Ever Kleptocracy Forfeiture Action, DOJ Seizes $458 Million

By: Thad McBride and Cheryl Palmeri

On June 28, 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice executed a forfeiture order over $401,931 in assets traceable to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the former governor of Bayelsa State, Nigeria.  Mr. Alamieyeseigha served as governor of Bayelsa State from 1999 until December 2005, when he was impeached on corruption allegations.  Following his impeachment, Mr. Alamieyeseigha pleaded guilty in Nigeria to money laundering and failing to disclose a bank account in Florida.  In 2007, he was sentenced to two years in prison.

Continue Reading Department of Justice Obtains First Forfeiture Judgment Under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative