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US Freezes Abacha’s $458m Loot

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United States said Wednesday it had ordered a freeze on $458 million in assets stolen by former Nigerian dictator Sani Abacha and his accomplices and hidden in European accounts.

The Justice Department said the corruption proceeds — stashed away in bank accounts in Britain, France and Jersey — were frozen at Washington’s request with the help of local authorities.

Abacha died in office in 1998, but his surviving relatives still include some of the richest and most influential figures in Africa’s most populous nation.

According to a civil forfeiture complaint unsealed in the US District Court in Washington, the department wants the recover more than $550 million in connection with the action.

“This is the largest civil forfeiture action to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption ever brought by the department,” said Mythili Raman, acting assistant attorney general.

“General Abacha was one of the most notorious kleptocrats in memory, who embezzled billions from the people of Nigeria while millions lived in poverty,” she said.

The Justice Department said the assets frozen — along with additional assets named in the complaint — represent the “proceeds of corruption” during and after the military regime of Abacha, who became president of Nigeria through a military coup on November 17, 1993 and held that office until his death on June 8, 1998.

The complaint alleges that Abacha, his son Mohammed Sani Abacha, their associate Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and others “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria and others, then laundered their criminal proceeds through the purchase of bonds backed by the United States using US financial institutions.”

Raman said that the action sends a “clear message” that the United States is “determined and equipped to confiscate the ill-gotten riches of corrupt leaders who drain the resources of their countries.”

The US government’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative “where appropriate” provides for the return of stolen proceeds “to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office.”

It did not specify what action would be taken with regard to the Abacha case.

The funds frozen include approximately $313 million in two bank accounts in the Bailiwick of Jersey and $145 million in two bank accounts in France, the department said.

Four investment portfolios and three bank accounts in Britain were frozed, with an estimated value of at least $100 million but the exact amounts in the accounts have not yet been determined, it said.

The Justice Department said that on February 25 and 26, authorities in Jersey, France and Britain complied with the US action to freeze the assets.

The complaint also seeks to freeze five corporate entities registered in the British Virgin Islands.

According to the complaint, Abacha and others systematically embezzled billions of dollars in public funds from Nigeria’s central bank on the false pretense that the funds were necessary for national security. They withdrew the funds in cash and then moved the money overseas through US financial institutions.

Abacha and his finance minister, Anthony Ani, also allegedly caused the Nigerian government to buy Nigerian government bonds at vastly inflated prices from a company controlled by Bagudu and Mohammed Abacha. That operation created an an illegal windfall of more than $282 million.

In addition, Abacha and his co-conspirators allegedly extorted more than $11 million from a French civil engineering company, Dumez, and its Nigerian affiliate in connection with payments on government contracts.

Funds involved in each of these schemes were laundered through the United States in nine financial institutions, the complaint alleged.

The financial institutions involved include Citibank, Chase Manhattan Bank and Morgan Guaranty Trust Company, now JPMorgan Chase, and New York-based units of Britain’s Barclays Bank and Germany’s Commerzbank.

 
 


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NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution

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Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has warned telecom consumers to desist from using illegal GSM boosters.

NCC Threatens Illegal Users of GSM Boosters with Arrest, Prosecution

The commission also said that anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.

GSM boosters are devices that transmit and receive telecommunications signals and can therefore interfere with other radio frequency equipment.

Ikechukwu Adinde, director, public affairs, NCC, said in a notice published on NCC website, that only licensed network operators are allowed to use GSM boosters.

The booster, also known as amplifier or repeater is made up of three main elements – exterior antenna, amplifier, and interior antenna.

They form a wireless system to boost cellular reception

“Members of the public should note that, willful interference with any wireless telegraphy is an offence under Section 16 of the Telegraphy Act, 2004,”it said

The agency said it will not condone any flagrant breach of this law.

It has also enforced measures to prosecute offenders.

Accordingly, monitoring mechanisms have been put in place and anyone caught using a GSM booster without obtaining approval of a duly licensed network operator will face arrest and prosecution.

“Any member of the public with useful information regarding the illegal use of GSM Boosters should contact the Commission on 09-4617000/7351 or send an email to [email protected],” the notice said.

“Individuals desirous of using GSM Boosters should note that they can only do so in conjunction with licensed network operators,” it added.

 

 


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Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria

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Tizeti announced that it selected Nokia’s Fastmile Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology to enable usprovide superior internet services to over 1 Million subscribers in Port Harcourt, Edo and Ogun in Nigeria.

Tizeti Selects Nokia to Provide LTE Fixed Wireless Access Solution for High-Speed internet Services in Nigeria

Tizeti will deploy Nokia’s AirScale Base Station TDD-LTE and FastmileFixed Wireless Access (FWA) gatewaysto deliver premium internet and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to Residential, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The solution will also enable Tizeti’sto deliver a more robust, high-speedinternet service to subscribers and the flexibility to seamlessly evolve to 5G Fixed Wireless Access when needed.

Nokia’s FWA solution enables Tizeti to fast-track broadband access and provide a best-in-class broadband experience to its subscribers.

Nokia’sAirScale Base Stations ensure high-quality connectivity and coverage and enablesTizeti to evolve the network in line with customer demand.

Nokia’sFastmilegateways connect wirelessly to the existing network to createa fastbroadband connection and enhanced Wi-Fi experience in the home.

The Nokia Network Services Platform will help Tizeti to simplify operations and quickly respond to changing market demands.

Kendall Ananyi, Tizeti, said:“We are committed to providing the best-in-class network experience to our subscribers. We are confident that Nokia’s proven technology and expertise will help us differentiate our services based on quality. This a crucial project for us as it introduces LTE in our networks and allows us to bring new and innovative services to our subscribers.”

Eniola Balogun, Nokia, said:“We are thrilled to work with Tizeti on the initiative to upgrade their network to bring the latest products and services to its subscribers. Nokia Fastmile will help Tizeti to cost-effectively enhance the customer experience.

The project will also enable them to delight their subscribers by providing more reliable data services.

On the other hand, Tizeti will benefit by adding new revenue streams.”

 

 


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Risk Assets Push Higher on Vaccine Hopes; Eyes on the Fed

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By Hussein Sayed, Chief Market Strategist at FXTM,

After two consecutive weeks of back-to-back declines, global stocks kicked off Monday with solid gains amid a surge in M&A activity and positive signs towards vaccine developments. Currency markets were little changed ahead of a busy week of monetary policy announcements, while Oil and Gold ticked slightly higher.

The two big deals announced over the weekend were Softbank’s plan to sell chipmaker ARM to Nvidia for more than $40 billion and Gilead Sciences to acquire Immunomedics for a price tag of $21 billion. Meanwhile, on the vaccine front, AstraZeneca resumed its phase-3 trial on Covid-19 after being suspended last week following a neurological illness developed in one participant, and Pfizer announced that its vaccine could be distributed before year-end if found safe and effective.

 

Central Banks will take centre stage this week with the Federal Reserve, Bank of England and Bank of Japan all due to announce policy decisions. Out of the three meetings, the Fed is likely to be the most watched following its historic shift towards average inflation targeting. The big question remains how will the FOMC put this policy into action?

 

From what we know now, the Fed is set up to keep interest rates near zero for a long time, possibly for several years. Given the new framework, any spike in inflation won’t translate into immediate rate hikes as the Fed wants to compensate for the lost years when they have failed to hit the target. The dot plot will be the key guide for investors and traders alike. If inflation projections remain at 2% or below for the foreseeable future, this will solidify market expectations for a low rate environment for many years to come. That said, Jay Powell would still have to explain in more detail how the new framework will be translated into policy action.

 

In June’s economic projections, the Fed anticipated unemployment would be at 9.3% by year-end, but, in August, unemployment was well below that forecast at 8.4%. Many other economic data surprised to the upside during the June – August period in a clear sign that most economists were overly pessimistic towards the strength of the recovery. However, there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty given the latest surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide and the US, especially as we get closer into the winter season. A second wave will undoubtedly put the recovery at risk in the final quarter of the year and it will be interesting to see the Fed’s view on that issue.

 

As for the market selloff over the past two weeks, the Fed isn’t likely to show any signs of concern. In fact, policymakers should be satisfied with the pullback as the risk of a bubble in several assets has been growing due to the Fed’s extremely accommodative policies. Unless we see another 10 -15% drop, do not expect the Fed to intervene.


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