The United State Department of Justice has sought advice from Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on “what the US should do with the proceeds of the civil asset forfeitures imposed against Diepreye Solomon
Peter Alamieyeseigha, the former Governor of Baylelsa State in Nigeria, who has been convicted in Nigeria of money laundering and unjust enrichment while in political office.”
The request for advice was made last week by Jeffrey Benzing of the Department of Justice to SERAP’s US Volunteer Counsel, Professor Alexander W. Sierck.
This followed the Department of Justice first Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative forfeiture judgment of $400,000 in assets traced to Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha in Nigeria.
Professor Sierck’s response reads in part: “On behalf of my client SERAP, the Nigerian NGO, I am responding to your question as to what the US Department of Justice should do with the proceeds of the civil asset forfeitures imposed against Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha, the former Governor of Baylelsa State in Nigeria, who has been convicted in Nigeria of money laundering and unjust enrichment while in political office.”
According to the organization, “In the specific context of the Governor Alamieyseigha case, the US should establish a trust fund comprised of present and future civil asset forfeiture proceeds to be paid, ultimately to a future benefit of the people of Baylelsa state. As a practical matter this would mean payment to a Nigerian or foreign NGO which would, subject to anti-corruption safeguards, in turn spend the money on public health or education projects, for example, in the state. A direct payout from the trust fund to the adult citizens of the state would seem to be, in my judgment, impractical and inefficient.”
“SERAP notes that Article 79 of the Rome Statute establishing the International Criminal Court provides for the establishment of separate trust funds into which criminal penalties and asset forfeiture proceeds are paid. These trust funds should benefit the victims of the crimes committed by the accused. They should serve as a model for the US doing likewise in its’ own civil forfeiture actions,” the response from Sierck added.
The organization also said that, “Essentially, SERAP’s response to your valid question tracks the rationale and framework of SERAP’s March 15, 2012 proposal to the SEC’s Enforcement Division concerning the proceeds of FCPA civil penalty and disgorgement payments. That proposal and this response are ones of general applicability and they’re not just linked to Nigerian situations.”
It would be re-called that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently requested a meeting with SERAP “to discuss the implementation of our proposal to establish an efficient case-by-case process for the payment of some or all of US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) disgorgement proceeds for the benefit of the victimized foreign government agency or the citizens of the affected foreign country like Nigeria.”
Following the meeting, Professor Sierck was invited to the World Bank’s Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative meeting, which he attended on April 5 and made contribution to discussion on how to enhance victims’ rights in anti-corruption investigations including restitution; and shared with the meeting SERAP’s proposal to SEC.