We’ve returned N80b Abacha loot, says Switzerland

Switzerland said yesterday it has put some measures in place to safeguard its financial system from the transfer of stolen wealth.
Outgoing Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Andreas Baum, spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja .
He said Switzerland’s financial system had improved since the controversy surrounding the loot of the late Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha.
“It is an area we have put a lot of work in. We realised that there was a problem; the measures we have taken will prevent the transfer of stolen wealth to our country.

“The Nigerian case is very important to us because the Abacha case helped us to improve our laws.
“We have put in place measures to ensure that the Swiss financial system is not abused with the transfer of such assets.
“We have returned around 500 million dollars (about N80 billion) of the Abacha loot to Nigeria. That was done during the time of my predecessor.
“But there is still one ongoing case involving the son of Abacha,’’ Baum said.
The envoy, who described bilateral relations between Switzerland and Nigeria as excellent,  bemoaned the low volume of their trade, which currently stood at $500million.
Baum attributed the low level of bilateral trade between the two countries to “informal and unaccounted trade’’.
According to him, this is because a lot of Swiss products, mainly oil and pharmaceuticals, come into Nigeria through other countries.
“Some Swiss products come into Nigeria through the Netherlands; so it is sometimes difficult to have an accurate account of the trade volume.’’
Baum stressed that plans were underway to improve on the bilateral trade, citing the visit of a trade delegation from Switzerland to Nigeria in 2010 as part of the trade improvement strategies.
Baum, who assumed duty in Nigeria in 2008, is expected to leave the country this month, having completed his hour of duty.