Abacha Loot: Adeosun blocks $17m payment to Malami’s lawyers

Abacha Loot: Adeosun blocks $17m payment to Malami’s lawyers

- Payment of $16.9 million fees to two lawyers for the recovery of Abacha loot worth $321 million has been denied approval

- The money is believed to be dubious, hence, the minister's refusal to approve the money

- Adeosun is said to have written a strong-worded letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to raise objections to the payment

The minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, has reportedly refused to approve the payment of $16.9 million fees to two lawyers for the recovery of Abacha loot worth $321 million.

The money is believed to be dubious, hence, the minister's refusal to approve the money.

The Cable reports that Adeosun has also written a strong-worded letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to raise objections to the payment.

It also reported that the recovered money has been repatriated to Nigeria by the Swiss government following the execution of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the two countries for the judicious use of the recovery.

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“It is true that a request was made to the minister of finance for the payment to the Nigerian lawyers, but approval is another thing altogether,” the news outlet said, quoting a senior government official.

The news outlet claimed a Swiss lawyer, Enrico Monfrini, was hired by the Nigerian government since 1999 to work on recovering Abacha loot. It said the lawyer who has since been paid his fees had finished the Luxembourg leg of the job since 2014.

It reported that the money which has been recovered was then domiciled with the attorney-general of Switzerland pending the signing of an MoU with Nigeria.

Going further, it reported that in 2016, another set of lawyers, were engaged for a fee of about N6 billion by Abubakar Malami, the minister of justice and attorney-general of the federation, to perform the same job.

It was also alleged that Monfrini was asking for an additional 20 percent to “complete the job”.

But in an email to the news outlet, Monfrini explained that there is no truth in the allegation.

“I never had the audacity to claim for additional fees. This figure of 20% is simply invented. I didn’t reject any proposal made by Mr. Malami since my fees were already paid a long time before Mr. Malami’s appointment as attorney general,” he said, adding that “any allegations against that would just be a lie.”

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“The repatriation of the $321 million was not completed by me. It’s a matter which is normally dealt between governments and which doesn’t entail the engagement of lawyers. I have no idea of the whereabouts of these $321 million.

“I know that they have been restituted to Nigeria by the Swiss government a few months ago. On the other hand, I don’t know why it took about three years for the two governments to agree that said restitution should be monitored by World Bank since this concept was created by me some 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, NAIJ.com had reported that Abubakar Malami, the attorney general of federation and minister of justice, explained that negotiation with Switzerland on the return of $321Million recovered from the late Abacha family had been concluded.

Malami on Thursday, October 26, said Nigeria had recently recovered the sum of eighty-five million US dollars from the controversial Malabu Restrained Funds from United Kingdom.

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Source: Naija.ng

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