- The Swiss government has blocked an account holding $150 million Halliburton bribe money belonging to Nigerian officials reportedly traced to a bank in Switzerland a week ago, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mrs Micheline Clamy-Rey said.
The announcement by the Swiss government, came few hours after the Federal Government announced the constitution of an investigative committee to commence an in-house probe of the Halliburton bribery scandal according to local news reports.
Mrs Clamy-Rey said the Swiss government is prepared to assist Nigeria to unravel the mystery surrounding the accounts, appealing to the Nigerian government to take advantage of the opportunity of the Mutual Legal Assistance and also should demand the reparation of the funds.
The Nigerian Federal Government had last week confirmed that the US government has helped trace a secret bank account in Switzerland where millions from the Halliburton bribe are lodged.
She said the monies stolen from Nigeria were not only taken to Switzerland, but to other countries, yet the Swiss government had demonstrated more commitment to ensuring that all the monies were returned.
Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chief Ojo Maduekwe Maduekwe said the Swiss government had demonstrated leadership in ensuring that Nigeria‘s war against corruption was sustained.
“We believe that our relations will go beyond the Sani Abacha loot because you have shown leadership and given an example on how to assist in the fight against corruption,” the minister said in the local media.
President Umaru Yar'Adua's administration has launched a zero tolerance campaign on corruption in the country to root out all forms of corruption in the west African state. Nigeria ranks high in the Corruption Perception Index.
The Swiss government has already repatriated $700m to the Nigerian government belonging to the former Nigerian dictator Mr Abacha that was kept in the Swiss banks.
The latest scandal stemmed from bribes allegedly paid to top Nigerian government officials by Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown and Root from 1994 to win a $6 billion contracts for the construction and expansion of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas project in Bonny River State.
In February, Halliburton admitted to paying the bribes to top officials between 1994 and 2004 of about $180 million.
The former chief executive of KBR Albert "Jack" Stanley, who pleaded guilty to making the bribes in order to secure the contracts, is to be sentenced on 6 May. KBR has agreed to pay more than $402 million in fines, of which Halliburton, as the former parent company, agreed to pay $302 million.
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