The Wall Street Journal on March 27, 2012 released the following:
“By Samuel Rubenfeld
The U.S. Justice Department’s kleptocracy initiative could spell the end of African leaders stashing stolen state assets in American financial institutions, said an expert in the region.
Herbert Igbanugo, the founding shareholder of Igbanugo Partners International Law Firm PLLC, said Tuesday during a panel discussion about Africa at the Dow Jones Global Compliance Symposium that the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which has a mandate to ferret out illicit assets belonging to “high-level” foreign officials and return them to victim countries, will have a great impact on the continent over the next couple of years as the U.S. pursues cases against African officials.
“I think the era of embezzlement in Africa is coming to an end,” said Igbanugo. “People are getting tired and angry…the time of no consequences is coming to an end.”
A top Justice Department official said recently it will continue to bring cases under the initiative despite their inherent difficulty. “I don’t think it’s the right thing for corrupt leaders to…take advantage of the U.S.,” said Lanny Breuer, an assistant attorney general who heads the department’s Criminal Division.
Calling the kleptocracy initiative “the best thing to happen to Africa,” Igbanugo recounted the stories of James Ibori, the former Nigerian state governor who recently pleaded guilty in the U.K. to money laundering, and Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, the son of Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo who was sued by the U.S. in its first action under the initiative.
Once government officials and presidents can’t secrete state wealth and use it themselves, it will end the incentive to steal and launder the assets for their personal benefit, Igbanugo said.”
Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
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