By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA – Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Hans Rodulf Hodel, Monday, revealed that a new loot of $370 million traced to the former Military Head of State, late Sani Abacha has been discovered in Luxembourg, saying that his country would be eager to help Nigeria reclaim the money if the authorities make a formal request for it.
Hodel also said that Swiss government has strengthened the country’s monetary policies to discourage deposits of ill-gotten money from foreign countries in its banks.
The ambassador spoke to Journalists yesterday when he paid a congratulatory visit to Nigeria’s president-elect, General Mohammadu Buhari in Abuja.
He added that Swiss laws would help Nigeria and other countries fight corruption.
He said, “This is a long standing issue. Our laws are there to help all countries which are fighting corruption. We will help this government. If you remember, many years ago we gave back the Abacha money to Nigeria. The situation in Switzerland has changed. The policy is no longer the same. In the past, people came to deposit money in Switzerland without too much controversy.
“Now, it is not possible to deposit money in Switzerland because of legal origin. Before the bank has to prove that the money is illegal. But now, before you deposit money in Swiss bank, you have to prove that you have earned that money legally.
“If you are a wealthy businessman, you have money in billions legally, but if, for example as a Journalist, you come to Switzerland with two million dollars and say you earned it because you did a very good job, nobody will believe you.
“There was another request by Nigeria to the Swiss authority to look for Abacha money and some amount, 370 million dollars, has been found in an account, but in Luxembourg. That is now between the Abacha family and the government. They have tried to find a deal so that this money can also come back.”
Asked how soon the money would be released, the ambassador said it would only be when the Nigerian government makes official request for assistance.
“The Swiss government is not involved. The Nigerian government has asked for legal assistance. When the government makes a request to my government, we work together on it. But this case is different. That is the Abacha family directly with the Nigerian government finding a deal.
“So, the Swiss government is not involved and the money is in Luxembourg. They have asked for legal assistance and we have provided the with this information. If is not a classical case and we would have preferred a classical case where we can give the money back and make sure that if is used in the interest of the people. Now it is up to the Nigerian government”, he said.
Also speaking, the Cuban Ambassador to Nigeria, Carlos Trejo Sosa who was also at the Defence House to congratulate Buhari said that Nigeria and Cuba share understanding in the area of health.
“First of all, Cuba’s collaboration with African countries is not new and not difficult. If you remember, a large number of Cuba people as doctors came to West Africa to fight Ebola, the first contingent of doctors. We have doctors in almost all African countries, about six thousands Cuba doctors working in Africa.
“We also have about 50,000 doctors working in Latin America and in some other places. So, it means that if requested by Nigerian government, we can come and share our experiences about the comprehensive system of health care. Cuba is not known to kill people but to prevent people from been sick”, he said.
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s oil business mogul, Prince Arthur Eze has said that most of oil companies which left the country because of harsh business environment would come back to resume business in Nigeria.
Eze who also felicitated with Buhari on his electoral victory in the company of the Managing Director, Total Upstream Company, Elisabeth Proust remarked that it was the Will of God for Buhari to became president of Nigeria at this time.
He said that Buhari with his vast experience in the Petroleum industry would fix Nigeria’s oil sector.
“We are glad that General Buhari is one of the most discipline leader that we have in Africa and particularly in Nigeria. He is going to organize this country so that you will see all these poor people again. Things will change in this country. It is God that Is giving power, and God has giving it to Buhari.
“He is coming to change our economy especially the oil sector. As you can see, most of the oil companies who left Nigeria are now coming back.
“You know General Buhari has been President of Nigeria and also a former oil minister, he know the oil industry very well, he is a man who has ability to take a decision. He has been in the system for a very long time, that is why God brought him back. Everyone of us is supporting him because God has giving him power”, Eze said.