U.S. secures forfeiture of Maryland property of former Gambian president


FILE PHOTO: Gambia's President Yahya Jammeh, who is also a presidential candidate for the Alliance for Patriotic Re-orientation and Construction (APRC), smiles during a rally in Banjul, Gambia, November 29, 2016. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday it has secured the forfeiture of a Maryland property purchased by former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh with about $3.5 million in alleged corruption proceeds through a trust set up by his wife.

Jammeh seized power of the tiny West African nation in a 1994 coup. He was forced out after losing a 2016 election to the current president, Adama Barrow, and fled to Equatorial Guinea. He has denied allegations of wrongdoing.

A court-ordered judgment and order of forfeiture had come on Tuesday, the Justice Department said. The judgment was the result of a civil forfeiture complaint filed by the United States in 2020 seeking the forfeiture of the Maryland property, the department said in a statement on Thursday.

Gambia's government on Wednesday said it accepted a recommendation by a truth and reconciliation commission that the exiled Jammeh be prosecuted for killings and other suspected crimes from his time in office.

The United States alleged that Jammeh corruptly obtained millions of dollars through the misappropriation of stolen public funds and the solicitation of bribes from businesses seeking to obtain monopoly rights over various sectors of the Gambian economy.

"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 Justice Department said on Thursday.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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