Nigeria is set to partner foreign consultants, comprising legal practitioners and other experts in Switzerland on a voluntary offshore asset repatriation scheme.
This is coming barely one week to the expiration of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which was extended to June 30 by President Muhammadu Buhari after the initial grace period lapsed.
Mr Abubakar Malami, the Minister of Justice, disclosed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Bern, Switzerland on the sideline of a meeting held at the Nigerian Embassy.
Malami said that under the scheme, experts would collaborate with the Swiss Government to target funds that have not been identified in ongoing investigations.
It would be recalled that since 2015, $322 million looted funds have been repatriated from Switzerland.
According to Malami, Switzerland has been chosen as the pilot nation for the scheme, given the existing partnership on asset repatriation between both countries.
“The success of the scheme in Switzerland will determine the inclusion of other nations,’’ the minister said.
He said Nigeria government was also involved in other international repatriation processes, noting the recent tripartite meeting held in the UK between Nigeria, US and the State of Jersey on asset recovery.
Speaking on the utilisation of the repatriated funds, Malami said that the monies were being channelled into various projects, closely monitored by the World Bank and the Swiss Civil Society Organisations.
“In a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Repatriation, signed between Nigeria and Switzerland, there are check mechanisms imbedded in the agreement.
“These checks and balances will see to the effective and transparent utilisation of the monies repatriated.’’
“These include monitoring by the world bank, the participation of the Swiss civil society and agreement of targeted projects, especially those related to social investments such as school feeding, entrepreneurial and skill acquisition programmes of the Federal government,’’ Malami said
He pledged the government’s continued commitment to preventing corruption; legislation, enforcement and recovery strategies in the campaign against corruption.
The minister noted that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and electronic salary payment scheme (IPPIS) were among measures being applied to block leakages and loopholes in fostering corruption.