U.S. sues Jammeh

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

The west African nation’s longtime dictator conspired to launder roughly US$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 in July.

Jammeh was 29 when he took power in a 1994 military coup. He ruled over Gambia for more than 22 years.

Yahya Jammeh

He and his wife, Zineb Jammeh, fled into exile in Equatorial Guinea after he lost a December 2016 presidential election to Adama Barrow.

According to the Justice Department’s civil complaint, he 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.

“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, D.C. area after the family purchased the Potomac mansion in the name of a trust for US$3.5 million in 2010, according to the complaint. A petroleum company employee allegedly arranged for roughly US$1 million in cash to be deposited into an account for that trust less than one month before the property sale, the complaint alleges. 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,” federal prosecutor Robert Hur said in a statement.

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