The Nigerian government has described as “misleading and inaccurate” a report that it agreed to pay $79 million commission as part of conditions for the reparation of $321 million Abacha loot from the Swiss government, according to a Premium Times report.
Last July, the Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Eric Mayoraz, announced that his country would return $321m out of the Abacha loot to Nigeria.
Quoting the Chairman of the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, Olanrewaju Suraju, who was speaking at a seminar on Friday to commemorate the 2016 International Anti-Corruption Day, a Punch newspaper’s report said the original loot expected from Switzerland was $400 million.
According to Mr. Suraju, the Nigeria government secretly agreed to let go of $79 million in order to facilitate the expedited return of $321 million.
He said it was shameful that the Nigeria government agreed to pay a legal commission for the stolen wealth instead of demanding interest on the fund that has been in the custody for Swiss authorities for several years.
“Unfortunately, the government goes to beg countries to get our money back rather than making demands, we appeal for the money and beg them to return it. We are fed with half information such that we even assume that we actually recover the amount stolen.
“I had a very funny experience and it is still ongoing. The $321m that the Swiss Government is meant to return to Nigeria, we discovered three weeks ago that the original money was about $400m. The legal process in Switzerland actually charged the Nigerian Government about $79m and that is why we are receiving $321m.
“The $321m is now to be returned to Nigeria with the condition that the World Bank will monitor how the funds will be spent. I cannot imagine anything more insulting.”
However, Nigeria’s minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, in a statement on Saturday evening, said the full amount being expected from Switzerland was $321 million and not N400 million as claimed by Mr Suraju.
The minister said the World Bank was involved in the talks preceding the expected reparation of the fund, which would be used for projects to be verified by the global financial institution. She said no secret commission was being paid to the Swiss government.
“The Federal Government is committed to securing the return of all looted funds in their entirety and has never entered into any sharing arrangement as suggested in the report,” Ms. Adeosun said.
“Intense efforts continue to secure all monies due to Nigeria including an additional $400 million of Abacha loot held up in U.S. Courts on which the Attorney General of the Federation and the Ministry of Finance are engaging with their U.S. counterparts to secure expeditiously,” she added.