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USA moves to seize ex-Gambia dictator's properties

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh

Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh used bribery proceeds and stolen government funds to buy a mansion in a suburb of Washington, D.C., U.S. authorities allege in a lawsuit seeking to seize the property.

The West African nation's longtime dictator conspired to launder roughly $3.5 million in "corruption proceeds" through the purchase of a lavish home in Potomac, Maryland, the Justice Department said in a civil forfeiture complaint filed Wednesday.

Jammeh was 29 when he took power in a 1994 military coup. He ruled over Gambia for more than 22 years. He and his wife, Zineb Jammeh, fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea after he lost a December 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.

Jammeh acquired at least 281 properties during his time in office and operated more than 100 private bank accounts directly or through companies or foundations in which he has shares or an interest, according to the Justice Department's civil complaint.

"Neither Jammeh nor his wife Zineb appear to have family wealth to explain how he acquired these assets," the complaint says.

The couple's children attended schools in the Washington area after the family purchased the Potomac mansion in the name of a trust for $3.5 million in 2010, according to the complaint. A petroleum company employee allegedly arranged for roughly $1 million in cash to be deposited into an account for that trust less than one month before the property sale, the complaint says.

The unidentified employee opened a bank account in the trust's name one day after the petroleum company received a "re-affirmance" of its fuel importation monopoly rights in Gambia, the complaint says.

"This action demonstrates that the United States will not allow criminals to profit from their crimes and will seek justice for crime victims both here and abroad," U.S. Attorney Robert Hur said in a statement.

Jammeh hasn't been charged with any crimes in the U.S., but the Justice Department complaint notes that a quasi-judicial commission established by the Gambian government recommended criminal charges against the former president.

The commission said Jammeh wasted or stole the equivalent of more than $300 million in U.S. dollars from public accounts. Jammeh also accepted bribes and kickbacks in exchange for granting monopoly rights to businesses over sectors of the Gambian economy, the complaint says.

A March 2019 report by an investigative group called the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project said Jammeh and his associates plundered nearly $1 billion of timber resources and Gambia's public funds.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions against Jammeh in 2017, saying he "has a long history of engaging in serious human rights abuses and corruption."

"Jammeh created a terror and assassination squad called the Junglers that answered directly to him," a Treasury Department news release says. "Jammeh used the Junglers to threaten, terrorize, interrogate, and kill individuals whom Jammeh assessed to be threats." 

Comments

+2 #1 Lysol 2020-07-18 19:21
That should be a warning to other African dictators that the U.S Treasury Department can always find and seize any ill-gotten assets.

Most the dictators always hide them through their relatives and cronies.

Uganda will one day recover some of its assets stolen by the corrupt regime.
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0 #2 Akot 2020-07-18 20:04
USA woke up to say NO to African rulers who believe they have right to loot & use that country as safe place, thus making Americans their complices in destruction of Africa & starvation/deprivation of Africans!

Money/properties demon rulers have in foreign banks & countries could help develop Africa!

Up to now, not much is done by USA/EU & refugees/migrants now know where to go to get public/social services, right?

Idi Amin got away with Uganda money, spent it freely after.

Museveni will rule for life & his family is assured of heritage!
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0 #3 Mbeho Acuch 2020-07-19 01:48
The US should turn it's attention on African thieves (aka corrupt officials and leaders) that will be one of the ways now destitute Africans can have accountable governments that lift them from the Spectre of poverty.

Corruption in Africa kills more Africans than China flu each day!!! Corruption and greed are the reason African leaders are belittled internationally,
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0 #4 Mbeho Acuch 2020-07-19 08:49
USA, Britain, and other Western Countries should have such looters excluded, including their children, from traveling to the above countries.

FBI, CIA, Mosad, and similar investigative bodies should take a hard look at the African corrupt leaders and thieves and recover the loot, that is way they will be saving the now vulnerable, poor Africans who are still dying of poverty, disease etc bcz resources are plundered by individuals
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0 #5 Lakwena 2020-07-20 09:30
"Jammeh used the Junglers to threaten, terrorize, interrogate, and kill individuals whom Jammeh assessed to be threats."

It sounds familiar with what we have here at home: e.g. ISO and the Kaka of this country; the Good NRM Cadre non other than Gen Kayihura and Kitata his Boda Boda 10 goons.

In other words, Ugandan and the world will not be shocked if Mr. M7 and family members' stolen wealth will be exposed.

Like the Biblical Ananias and his wife Sapphira (Acts 5:1); at the moment, Mr. M7 and wife are feigning modesty and poverty, e.g., when shamelessly Janet Kataha presented before the whole wide world Mr. M7's Shs.1.4 million Check, as Covid 19 donation.

Thank God they haven't dropped dead.
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