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US court rules that Yahya Jammeh’s US$3m mansion can be seized

A court in the United States has now ruled that a $3m (£2.4m) mansion should be seized from a trust nicodemously set up by ex-Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh. 

Jammeh laundered his money by buying the luxurious property in the US but now authorities its should be sold and the proceeds used to benefit those harmed by the former president’s “acts of corruption and abuse of office.”

“Maryland real estate is not a shelter for funds for corrupt rulers who have stolen from their countrymen,” said Selwyn Smith, one of the agents overseeing the case.

Yahya Jammeh was Gambia's longtime leader until his electoral defeat in 2016
Yahya Jammeh was Gambia’s longtime leader until his electoral defeat in 2016 (Picture by AFP)

It took over a decade of investigations to uncover how Jammeh laundered his money.

He was in charge of Gambia for over 22 years before being toppled in 2017. His regime was notorious for corruption and extensive human rights violations.

“Ex-Gambian President Yahya Jammeh and his wife thought that they could hide funds stolen from the Gambian people by buying a mansion in Potomac,” US Attorney Robert K Hur said when the civil action to seize the property began in 2020.

Responding to the decision to seize the property, Ms Sohna Sallah, who first raised the issue more than a decade ago, said she was “very pleased”.

“I’m happy that some semblance of justice has been done.”

Looking to the future “it would be nice ultimately if the money is returned to the custody of The Gambia so that the proceeds of the sale can go towards the victims of [Mr] Jammeh’s crimes”.

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