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After Switzerland, Abacha funds scandal hits British banks

British and Swiss banks were accused of aiding embezzlement by the former Nigerian leader Sani Abacha. Keystone / EPA Photo / Issouf Sanogo

British banks are under the spotlight, accused of helping Nigeria's late dictator Sani Abacha embezzle billions. Britain's financial authorities are set to launch an investigation, which comes after Swiss complaints that they were not doing en

According to the “Financial Times”, Abacha transferred money into accounts held at a dozen London banks. The newspaper said that the British authorities were starting the enquiry after requests by Switzerland and Nigeria, which are trying to trace over SFr7 billion.

The Nigerian government estimates that up to SFr1691 million was deposited in London banks by the dictator. The British investigation could force the banks to reveal the names of account-holders.

The Swiss justice authorities have already blocked several accounts held in Abacha’s name. A report by the Federal Banking Commission published in September was highly critical of the Swiss banking sector’s role in the Abacha affair.

Of 19 Swiss banks investigated, 12 were attacked for a failure to act properly when dealing with the dictator’s money. The Credit Suisse Group was one of those most heavily slammed for its role.

The Swiss banks criticised later said they learned their lesson, and had introduced new procedures that would stop a repeat of such mistakes.

swissinfo with agencies

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