An extensive review of debt transactions now demonstrates a possible direct intention to defraud governments by Nigeria’s misrepresentation of their true financial position in the world market. London Banks and trading houses are among those being investigated.John Monks reports.
London banks and financiers played key roles in the looting of billions of pounds from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) according to documents and evidence contained in the Nigerian Debt Buy Back Reports which meticulously document two cases currently in the media and working their way through various criminal courts here in the UK and abroad.
The reports focus on two of the biggest financial alleged frauds in UK history, the multi-billion dollar Sane Abaca Debt Scandal (Financial Times London Oct. 20 & 21, 2000) and the 4.5 billion dollar Secret Nigerian Debt Buyback Scheme (Sunday Times London April 2, 2000) administered and orchestrated by the American financier Robert S. Minton out of his London based finance company GML.
The UK Financial Services Authority and the House Office are now launching their own investigations into the actions of the London Banks and financial institutions named in the reports. After close inspection, sources in Geneva commented, ‘One can clearly see the similarities and criminal actions built into these two financial schemes, whose only purpose was to enrich the personal wealth of the current dictator and the very people running the schemes, while draining the financial resources of the Central Bank of Nigeria and defrauding Nigerian creditors.’
Salomon Brothers’ debt trading office in London along with other debt traders and bankers at Standard Chartered Bank, Morgan Grenfell, ANZ Bank and Bank Austria London branch are among the 15 UK banks named in the reports as trading debt and the moving of billions of pounds through their London Financial institutions.
Salomon Brothers* did at least 48 separate deals through Minton’s program, totaling over US$ 996.7 million worth of Nigerian debt. The FSA will be asking what steps, if any, did these bankers take to identify the source of funds used in these transactions and whether Mr. Minton informed them these funds came from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
This then raises the question, if Salomon Brothers and the rest of the bankers knew these funds came from the Central Bank of Nigeria, did they inform the debt holders from whom they purchased the debt that the source of funds was actually the Central Bank of Nigeria?
A financial investigator working on the two cases stated ‘the banks and debt traders are in a very awkward position, if they knew Mr. Minton was acting as an agent for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) using CBN funds to secretly purchase Nigerian debt on the secondary market, that knowledge would make them accomplices to defrauding Nigerian debt holders out of billions of dollars. On the other hand if the debt traders and bankers were unaware of Mr. Minton’s secret relationship with the CBN, that would make them victims of the alleged fraud and give them the legal standing to join in on the civil suits now being prepared on behalf of the defrauded Nigerian debt holders against Sani Abacha, Robert Minton and the CBN.’
Leading UK companies such as Unilever, ICI, Barclays Bank and French conglomerate Fougerolle along with dozens of other UK based companies have possibly been defrauded out of hundreds of million of pounds.
BusinessAge has spoken to a number of shareholders who have expressed their deep concern regarding the millions that would have been reflected as company profits are now company losses due to this alleged fraud.
The Nigerian Debt BuyBank reports explain in detail how both Debt Buyback Schemes set up secret offshore companies to mask their identities and actions while using a sophisticated financial network of Swiss, UK, European and US banking institutions to launder billions of dollars looted from the Central Bank of Nigeria. Both schemes deposited their illicit profits into UK, Swiss and US banks. Both schemes used front companies, debt traders and false buyers to purchase the debt and defraud the debt holders out of billions of dollars of Nigerian Promissory Notes and other Nigerian debt instruments.
The financial architects of both schemes presently have criminal charges filed against them in Geneva, with multiple suits being prepared in the UK and US.
The current Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Rasheed is under pressure from the Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo as well as UK and US financial authorities to explain his suspected role in both the Abacha and Minton Debt BuyBank Schemes. Documents contained in the report clearly show Mr. Rasheed is the key CBN official who worked directly with Mr. Minton and the Abacha family in both BuyBack Schemes now under investigation.
Documents seen by BusinessAge suggest that Mr. Rasheed is being questioned about his personal business relationship concerning offshore accounts and personal trusts set up with the UK based company Trident Trust. A CBN official stated ‘Mr. Rasheed was in Denver Colorado, USA’, where he was defending himself and the CBN against allegations of fraud involving the well-known Nigerian ‘advance fee 419 scams’ and unavailable for comment.
An extensive review of debt transactions and debts forgiven by other lending nations at the time of the Buyback schemes now demonstrates a possible direct intention to defraud those governments by Nigeria’s misrepresentation of their true financial position in the world market, thus opening up other needed inquiries to the use of funds from the IMF, World Bank and other lending governments.
The Swiss, UK and US financial regulatory agencies have a lot of housecleaning and explaining to do if they are to stop assisting in the systematic looting of Third World Central Bank reserves by corrupt military dictators and their well paid ‘financial advisors’.
*BusinessAge offered Salomon Brothers the opportunity to comment, but the company declined.
Caption: Rasheed (below) is under pressure from his boss, Nigerian President, Olusegun Obassango (right). His credibility is at a low point with no signs of recovery.