Being remarks/talking points by Eric Mayoraz, Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, on the occasion of the ANEEJ-SERAP pre-GFAR Consultative Summit at the Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja, 26th October, 2017, with the theme: Building an enduring framework for Asset Recovery in Nigeria

Pre-GFAR Consultative Meeting, Africa Network, Abuja, 26.10.2017

  • Switzerland is committed to fight against corruption and changed in the last decade its legislation in order to avoid that stolen money be deposited in its banks.
  • Our legislation against money laundering is currently one of the more modern internationally and my country also ratified and respects the major international instruments in that domain.
  • These efforts have permitted 15 years ago to freeze and then to retrocede to Nigeria, among others cases around the world, about 722 millions USD of stolen assets by the Abacha family.
  • Switzerland was the first country to give this looted money back to Nigeria.
  • The Swiss justice nevertheless continued its investigations and discovered and then froze hundreds of millions USD deposited by the Abacha family in others banks, this time not in Switzerland, but in Luxemburg.
  • After an agreement was found between the Abacha family on one side and the former Attorney general of the Federation of Nigeria in 2014, the Swiss Attorney general from Geneva decided that the money estimated to about 320 millions USD should be given back to Nigeria, and asked the federal government of Switzerland to negociate the modalities of the retrocession of that money.
  • In mars 2016, a Letter of Intent was signed by the current Attorney general of the Federation, the Honourable Minister of Justice Malami and the Swiss Minister of foreign affairs during his visit to Abuja. Both agreed that the money who belongs to Nigeria and the Nigerian people should be protected of any attempt to steal it again.
  • In June 2016 the government of Nigeria, in the person of H.E. The Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo choose an important project to use this money: The cash transfer project to the poorest in Nigeria called National Safety Net, with will be monitored by the World Bank.
  • Recently, after more than one year we came to the final point of the negociation with the drafting of a MoU.
  • We are grateful to the Nigerian authorities for their strong commitment towards a transparent and accountable restitution that aims to reduce absolute poverty by providing cash transfers to support the poorest and most vulnerable population.
  • Returning stolen assets is an important source of financing for the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • We believe that this restitution case can be showcased to the international community as best practice for many reasons:
  • It will directly benefit the poorest Nigerians (those from whom the money was stolen);
  • It includes a robust, transparent, and accountable monitoring mechanism;
  • Of course the role of the CSO will also be very important.
  • We hopefully expect to sign a final agreement between Nigeria, Switzerland and the World before the end of this year.
  • For future cases, Switzerland is committed to fully cooperate with the Nigerian authorities, the EFCC and the Ministry of Justice in the field of mutual legal assistance: In that sense, Nigeria and Switzerland signed last year a MoU facilitating the transmission and treatment of such MLA demands directly between the two Ministries of Justice of our both countries.