The Department of Justice, pursuant to a court-ordered default judgment and final order of forfeiture entered on May 24, has secured the forfeiture of a Potomac, Maryland, property acquired with approximately $3.5 million in alleged corruption proceeds by the former President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, through a trust set up by his wife, Zineb Jammeh.
The judgment is the result of a civil forfeiture complaint filed by the United States in July 2020 seeking the forfeiture of the Maryland property. As alleged in the complaint, Yahya 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. Jammeh conspired with his family members and close associates to utilize a host of shell companies and overseas trusts to launder his alleged corrupt proceeds throughout the world, including through the purchase of a multimillion-dollar mansion in Potomac, Maryland. With this entry of final judgment, ownership of that Maryland property has now been forfeited to the United States along with all rental income generated by the property since the filing of the amended complaint in August 2020. 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 Department of Justice is committed to using the rule of law to forfeit assets traceable to alleged foreign corruption,” said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “This case demonstrates our ability to work with foreign partners to secure the forfeiture of assets allegedly derived from illicit bribes and stolen funds despite complex attempts to disguise the proceeds and their intended recipients.”
“Corrupt foreign officials will not be allowed to hide illegal proceeds in Maryland or anywhere else in the United States,” said U.S. Attorney Erek L. Barron for the District of Maryland. “We will use all the tools at our disposal to track down and seek to repatriate those funds.”
“Maryland real estate is not a shelter for funds for corrupt rulers who have stolen from their countrymen,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Selwyn Smith of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Baltimore. “Working with our domestic and foreign partners, HSI Baltimore has been able to recover property purchased with ill-gotten gain. From here, we will focus our efforts into returning those funds to the people of The Gambia, from whom they were stolen.”
The investigation was conducted by HSI’s Illicit Proceeds and Foreign Corruption Investigations Group in Miami, with the assistance of the HSI Office of the Special Agent in Charge for Baltimore, HSI Attaché Office in Dakar, Senegal and the U.S. Department of State’s Diplomatic Security Service. The Criminal Division’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) provided capacity building assistance and mentoring.
The case is being handled by Trial Attorneys Steven Parker and Kaycee Sullivan of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Wine for the District of Maryland. Substantial assistance was provided by the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs. The department also thanks the government of The Gambia for its assistance.
The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is led by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies, and often with U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, to use those recovered assets to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office. Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.