Thursday, 4 September 2008

How Abacha family stalled bid to recover looted funds ---- Swiss envoy

Swiss Ambassador to Ghana Mr. Nicolas Lang yesterday narrated how the family of the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, stalled moves by the Swiss government to repatriate looted funds found in some Swiss’ bank accounts to Nigeria.

The late Abacha was reputed to have filched from the public treasury about $3 billion stashed in foreign accounts.

Lang said during a media roundtable forum in Accra, which was facilitated by Media21, a global network of journalists based in Geneva, that the family of the late Abacha employed lawyers to stonewall efforts to repatriate the looted funds.

"It was a serious case because the Abacha family used the Swiss legal system. They used every single means to prevent the Swiss from repatriating the money but at the end, the state tribunal had to put its foot down. The money has been repatriated completely," he added.

Lang said the Swiss government, in collaboration with the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance in Nigeria set out modalities to determine how the recovered loot would be spent.

On the chances of foreigners using Swiss’ banks to hide looted funds, he expressed confidence that the government had put up a regulatory framework to stop illicit money from getting into its system.

Earlier, Swiss Minister of Finance,Mr. Martin Dahinde, said the government was supporting developing countries by providing counterpart funding to assist in building capacity at various levels.

Although Nigeria is not among the beneficiaries of its programme, other countries, such as Mali, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and South Africa have received over 40 percent of total grant to developing countries.

* By Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf, Accra

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