President Muhammadu Buhari’s adminstration has taken string exception to unflattering remarks about him by the global bank, HSBC, alleging that the conglomerate laundered about $100 million for Nigeria’s late dictator, General Sani Abacha, who died in 1998.
HSBC Bank Plc is one of the largest banking and financial services organisations in the world, with an international network comprising around 7,500 offices in over 80 countries in Europe, Asia, Americas, the Middle East and Africa.
The bank has just reported that a second four-year term of President Muhammadu Buhari would stunt Nigeria’s economy.
But in reaction to this acerbic prediction, the Buhari government quickly replied that what killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders like Abacha, the type which was actively supported by HSBC.
The Presidency alleged that even recent revelations have shown that the HSBC was involved in laundering money for one of Nigeria’s Senate leaders and 50 other Nigerians, which meant that the bank was mischievously intent on blackmailing the Buhari administration.
Buhari, through his spokesman, Garba Shehu, therefore declared that HSBC had no moral right criticise Buhari who is plugging loopholes of corruption in the country.
In a statement issued by Shehu on Saturday night, the Presidency said that “a bank that soiled its hand with ‘‘millions of US dollars yet-to-be-recovered Abacha loot’’, and continued until a few months ago to shield the stolen funds of one of the leaders of the Nigerian Senate has no moral right whatsoever to project that a ‘second term for Mr. Buhari raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration’.
“Rather, we ask them to heed President Buhari’s constant refrain: return our stolen assets, then see how well we will do.
“From the facts available to our investigation agencies, HSBC’s put down on President Buhari is no more than an expression of frustration over the administration’s measures put in place which has abolished grand corruption, the type which this bank thrives on in many countries.
“They may also just be out to discredit the President out of the fear of sanctions and fines following the national assets that are stolen.
“With the coming of President Buhari, it is not a secret that corruption, corrupt individuals, banks and other corporate entities that aided corrupt practices are under investigation for various offenses.
“For many of them, including their friends in the media, they would rather have President Buhari out of their way, for business as usual to return.
“Our investigation agencies believe that HSBC had laundered more than USD 100,000,000 for the late General Sani Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London and Geneva.
“Among these accounts on the records are: AC: S-104460 HSBC Fund Admin Ltd. Jersey ($12,000,000); AC 37060762 HSBC Life (Europe), U.K ($20,000,000) and AC: 38175076 HSBC Bank Plc. U.K ($1,600,000).
“The bank is also suspected in the laundering of proceeds of corruption involving more than 50 other Nigerians, including a serving Senator as earlier indicated.
“In a book, ‘Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation’, published in 2017, Jack Bernstein told the story of global money laundering highlighting the unenviable place of the HSBC.
“This is a bank that states and federal authorities in the U.S. forced to pay $1.92 billion to settle charges of money laundering; fined $1.2 billion in Hong Kong for ‘systemic deficiencies’ in bond sales and was made to pay $100 million in currency rigging settlement as reported by The Telegraph of 18th January, 2018.”