Buhari’s visit: US to repatriate $500m looted fund

Buhari

The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to U.S. President Donald Trump has yielded the finalisation of negotiations to repatriate more than 500 million dollars (about 190 billion Naira) of Nigeria’s looted money traced to the U.S.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Washington, DC, that he and the Attorney-General of the U.S. would be meeting on Tuesday to finalise the agreement.
Malami explained that the technicalities involved were being taken care of by both officials of the Nigerian Governments and also from the U.S. side.
He said: “On the part of assets recovery, we have made considerable progress through this visit.
“There’s goodwill by the two presidents to have a road map for the repatriation of illicit funds and assets traced to the U.S. as proceeds of illicit transactions.
“This illicit funds and assets are to the tune of 500 million dollars and above for immediate repatriation.
“We are looking at the shortest practicable time for it to be repatriated.
“There is political commitment demonstrated by the two presidents.
“The over 500 million dollars is not all the recovery, it is only for the immediate repatriation while we continue with our efforts to recover more”.
Malami defended Nigeria’s human rights record, saying the Buhari’s administration is the first in the history of Nigeria to pay compensation for human rights violations.
He said in April, the Federal Government paid N135 million for the eight Apo traders who were found to have been victims of extra judicial killings by the Nigeria Police.
“Of the police officers indicted, two were sentenced to death. The payment of compensation was also as a result of the recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission and government did not appeal against it,” he said.
He noted that Trump approved of what Buhari’s administration is doing.
“Trump said Buhari is a great leader; he said he has a great respect for him; and he said Buhari has cut down on corruption,” Malami said.
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Source: NAN

NYC terror suspect deserves death penalty – Trump

Trump

President Trump tweeted late Wednesday that the alleged terrorist who killed eight people in New York should get the death penalty.

“NYC terrorist was happy as he asked to hang ISIS flag in his hospital room. He killed 8 people, badly injured 12. SHOULD GET DEATH PENALTY!” the president tweeted.

Trump’s post came hours after details emerged in a criminal complaint that the suspect allegedly told investigators he “felt good” about carrying out the attack, and also asked to display flags of the Islamic State terrorist group in his hospital room.

On Tuesday, Sayfullo Saipov, a 29-year-old from Uzbekistan, allegedly rammed a truck into a crowded bike path near the World Trade Center Memorial, killing eight and injuring a dozen.

Trump responded to the attack by pledging to increase vetting of immigrants entering the U.S. He also promised Wednesday to end the visa program that allowed the suspect into the country.

Source: USA Today

Two ex-Trump aides charged in Russia probe, third pleads guilty

Trump

Federal investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election charged President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and another aide, Rick Gates, with money laundering on Monday.

A third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI, it was announced on Monday.

It was a sharp escalation of U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s five-month-old investigation into alleged Russian efforts to tilt the election in Trump’s favor, and into potential collusion by Trump aides.

Manafort, 68, a longtime Republican operative, and Gates were arraigned at a federal courthouse in Washington.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them in a 12-count indictment, ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

The judge ordered house arrest for both men and set a $10 million unsecured bond for Manafort and an unsecured bond for Gates at $5 million. With unsecured bonds, they are released without having to pay but will owe money if they fail to appear in court. There will be another hearing on Thursday.

Mueller’s investigation and others by congressional committees into alleged Russian efforts to influence the election have cast a shadow over the Republican president’s first nine months in office.

Neither Trump nor his campaign was mentioned in the indictment against the pair. The charges, some going back more than a decade, center on Manafort’s work for Ukraine.

A White House spokeswoman said the indictment had nothing to do with Trump or his campaign and showed no evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia.

“We’ve been saying from Day One there’s no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing in the indictment today changes that at all,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a news briefing.

The charges against Manafort could put pressure on him to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia investigation, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago.

“If I were the defense lawyer I’d be looking into cooperating,” he said.

GUILTY PLEA

In a development directly related to Trump’s 2016 election campaign, it emerged on Monday that Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Mueller’s office said Papadopoulos had lied to FBI agents about the timing of contact between him and a professor in London who claimed to have information that would hurt Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Papadopoulos, a little-known former foreign policy adviser in the campaign, made a plea bargain which stated that he has since “met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions,” according to a court document.

White House spokeswoman Sanders played down Papadopoulos’ campaign role, saying it was “extremely limited” and that he was a volunteer.

“He asked to do things (and) he was basically pushed back or not responded to in any way,” she told a news briefing. “Any actions that he took would have been on his own.”

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the election, by hacking and releasing embarrassing emails and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit Clinton.

Manafort ran the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before resigning amid reports he might have received millions of dollars in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

Trump on Monday reiterated his frustration with the Mueller probe, which he has called “a witch hunt.” Moscow also denies the allegations.

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Clinton.

Mueller has been investigating Manafort’s financial and real estate dealings and his prior work for a political group, the Party of Regions, which backed former pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars of income from Ukraine work and laundered money through scores of U.S. and foreign entities to hide payments from U.S. authorities, the indictment said.

They concealed from the United States their work and revenue as agents of Ukrainian political parties and used their wealth to lead a “lavish lifestyle” without paying taxes on the income, it says.

Gates was a longtime business partner of Manafort and has ties to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. He also served as deputy to Manafort during his brief tenure as Trump’s campaign chairman.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer called for the Trump administration to avoid interfering with Mueller’s probe.

“The rule of law is paramount in America and the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded. The president must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way,” Schumer said.

Source: Reuters