The United States has said that it has secured the forfeiture of a mansion bought by ex-Gambian president Yahya Jammeh for $3.5 million with alleged corruption proceeds.
“The United States intends to sell the property, and recommend to the Attorney General that the net proceeds from the sale of the forfeited property be used to benefit the people of The Gambia harmed by former President Jammeh’s acts of corruption and abuse of office,” the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.
Reports said the property in Potomac, Maryland, was acquired through a trust set up by his wife, Zineb Jammeh. The final judgment on the property was entered earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice said in the statement.
“Jammeh conspired with his family members and close associates to utilize a host of shell companies and overseas trusts to launder his alleged corrupt proceeds throughout the world,” the statement added. With this entry of final judgment, the property has now been forfeited to the U.S. along with all rental income generated by the property since a complaint was filed in 2020.
“The Department of Justice is committed to using the rule of law to forfeit assets traceable to alleged foreign corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This case demonstrates our ability to work with foreign partners to secure the forfeiture of assets allegedly derived from illicit bribes and stolen funds despite complex attempts to disguise the proceeds and their intended recipients.”
“Corrupt foreign officials will not be allowed to hide illegal proceeds in Maryland or anywhere else in the United States,” U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland added. “We will use all the tools at our disposal to track down and seek to repatriate those funds.”
Jammeh is accused of summary executions, disappearances, torture, rape and other crimes during his 22-year rule and the victims are seeking some closure, justice and possible prosecution of those responsible, including the former president who flew into exile in Equatorial Guinea in early 2017. Nearly two years after the exile of Jammeh, the West African country swore in an 11-member truth, reconciliation and reparations commission to probe the alleged crimes committed by the dictator.
The Ministry of Justice said on Wednesday that it accepted all but two of the 265 recommendations made by the commission. Among the recommendations is the prosecution of Jammeh. The commission’s findings are based on more than two years of witness testimonies. Jammeh is currently in exile in Equatorial Guinea, which has no extradition treaty with The Gambia.