Social Economic Rights Advocacy Project, SERAP, has asked the United States government to deposit into an established trust fund, the $400,000 in assets belonging to former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, which were forfeited after he was convicted for money laundering offences.
SERAP’s advice to the US authority was sequel to a request by the US government asking SERAP for input on how to release the fund stolen by the former governor, for the use of the people of Bayelsa State.
The US Department of Justice in a letter signed by Jeffrey Benzing of the Department of Justice to SERAP’s volunteer attorney in the US, Professor Alexander Sierck, had demanded what to do with $400,000 in assets traced to Diepreye Alamieyeseigha. In its response, SERAP urged the US to adopt the provisions of Article 79 of the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, ICC, which provides for the establishment of separate trust funds into which criminal penalties and asset forfeiture proceeds are paid.
These trust funds, according to SERAP, “should benefit the victims of the crimes committed by the accused.” The intervention roles being played by SERAP on issues of corruption, especially its recent request and proposal to the US SECs Enforcement Division concerning proceeds of FCPA civil penalty and disgorgement payments led to the US recognition of the organisation.
According to the organisation, “in the specific context of the Alamieyeseigha 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.
It noted 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, which will benefit the victims of the crimes committed by the accused. This would “serve as a model for the US doing likewise in its’ own civil forfeiture actions,” the response from Sierck added.