Friday, June 06, 2008

Nigerian politicians using tax havens

We've seen it all before: money being sucked out of Nigeria and heading north: often to London and its satellites, and some of the world's dirtier tax havens. We tip our hats to the well-informed insider newsletter Africa Confidential which has reported on the financial affairs of James Ibori, former governor of Nigeria's Delta state and a key political contributor. As Nigeria's Punch newspaper put it:

A report in a London-based bi-monthly online publication, Africa Confidential, cited a police documents detailing the investigation of Barclays Bank, HSBC and Abbey Bank for assisting Ibori to launder the funds through his accounts in their banks. The report said the funds, which were meant for educational and infrastructural projects in Delta State, were diverted into the accounts. It also reported that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and an oil multinational paid £2.3m into Ibori’s Barclays account over three years for renting houseboats for foreign workers.

Take a look at the police document from Southwark Crown Court, which is here. It outlines properties in several parts of London; the names of London solicitors; a private jet; companies registered in Gibraltar, British Virgin Islands, Mauritius, Niue, Panama . . . . and on, and on, and on.

We already expressed astonishment that Liechtenstein was not on the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force, which is supposed to be one of the world's leading programmes to tackle dirty money.

Why are these tax havens not on the list? Why not, indeed, London? It makes us think that the FATF - to name just one of the woefully inadequate initiatives - serves as little more than a fig leaf for some of the world's biggest, most unpleasant crimes.

Oh, and if you think the Ibori money is small fry - think again. Take a look here, for example.


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