Report: London Court Frees Accounts of Abacha's Minister
A London High Court has ordered that bank accounts belonging to a former minister under Nigeria's late dictator General Sani Abacha should be unfrozen, a report said Thursday.
The court had in May 1999 ordered the freezing of former Finance Minister Anthony Ani's accounts as well as the accounts of others linked with Abacha, who ran Nigeria from November 1993 to June 1998, over a failed steel project.
The action followed a suit filed by a Zurich-based import-export trading company, Noga, in regard to a 2.5 billion dollar debt buy-back scam in respect of the Ajaokuta steel project.
The Vanguard newspaper reported the London court had ordered that Ani's accounts with the Australian and New Zealand Bank group be released.
It said the Nigerian government had sought the court's permission to discontinue with the case after reaching agreement with the former minister.
The paper said the court issued a consent order permitting the Nigerian government "to discontinue the action" against Ani.
"In consequence, the freezing order imposed on ... Ani's assets is hereby removed," the court said.
The Ajaokuta steel scam became public three years ago when the regime of Abacha's successor, Abdulsalami Abubakar, said a member of Abacha's family and two former ministers were involved in the buy-back scheme.
The Ajaokuta Steel Mill, begun in the 1970s, was built wat a cost of an estimated five billion dollars, half of which was owed to a Russian contracting firm.
The plant has never produced any steel -- AFP
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