Swiss gives conditions to return Abacha ‘ s stolen $320m

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The Federal Government and the Swiss Government said on Tuesday that negotiation was ongoing in the process to repatriate 321 million dollars looted funds starched away in Swiss Bank.

The Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama disclosed while playing host to the Swiss Foreign Minister, Mr Didier Burkhalter in Abuja.

Onyeama said that there have to be an agreement on what the repatriated money will be used for as a pre-condition for the release.

He said that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed with the Swiss Government on cooperation in the area of human right migration agreement.

He said that the value of the money expected to be repatriated was $321 million and that there were modalities to be agreed on for the repatriation which involved monitoring mechanism by the World Bank.

“The modalities are basically legal framework for that, mutual legal assistance framework, that we are trying to put in place and there are pre-conditions that are also in place already and this required monitoring mechanism.

“So we have to agree before hand as a pre-condition on what the money would be used for.

“And the World Bank would be part of the monitoring process to ensure that the money is used for the benefit of Nigerian people,” he said.

He said the visit of the Swiss minister was significant in the sense that it helped with the commencement of repatriation of the looted fund adding that other looted fund could be discovered in future.

According to him, Switzerland is helping us in many different areas, with the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Northern part of the country.

“They are making significant financial contribution there as well, and also in the area of trade. ;They are about to open a new Consulate in Lagos and of course this would be a mechanism that can help to promote trade; Swiss investment in Nigeria which is what we are looking for,’’ he said.

Burkhalter while responding said that his country would try to write another chapter of the history of illicit asset recovery and restitutions from Switzerland to Nigeria.

“There is a history, 10 years ago, we repatriated 700 million U.S. dollars Abacha looted fund, and now there is a possibility that in principle another 321 million U.S. dollars will be returned soon.

“And for our government it is very important to act swiftly, to act in a transparent way and act for the good of the population of Nigeria.

“And the decision of the prosecutor of Geneva set a condition and this condition is monitoring mechanism by the World Bank,’’ he said.

According to him, if we sign a treaty very swift and possibility to support social projects in Nigeria, with the monitoring of the World Bank the money would be repatriated.

The envoy said that the time to repatriate the fund “depends on the capacity of our finding the solution to the conditions that are set.

“That means if we found a good solution with a good treaty between Nigeria and Switzerland.

“I mean monitoring mechanism on the projects that have to be supported, then it can be very swift because the decision as in principle of restituting the 321 million dollars has already been taken,” he said.

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