Rather than focus on reports described as “doomsday prophecy”, the presidency has called on HSBC Bank to turn its searchlight inwards and focus on returning the country’s funds it is accused of laundering.
This was contained in statement by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media and Publicity).
The statement came as a response to a report by the bank which stated that a second term under President Muhammadu Buhari would negatively affect the economy.
The presidency berated the global banking giant for its alleged culpability in the “unbridled looting of state resources by leaders”.
The statement read: “The Presidency wishes to make clear to all Nigerians, and particularly the global banking giant HSBC which said the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari would stunt the economy, that what killed Nigeria’s economy in the past was the unbridled looting of state resources by leaders, the type which was actively supported by HSBC.
“A bank that soiled its hand with ‘‘millions of US dollars yet-to-be-recovered Abacha loot’’, and continued until a few months ago to shield the stolen funds of one of the leaders of the Nigerian Senate has no moral right whatsoever to project that a “second term for Mr. Buhari raises the risk of limited economic progress and further fiscal deterioration.”
“Rather, we ask them to heed President Buhari’s constant refrain: return our stolen assets, then see how well we will do.
“From the facts available to our investigation agencies, HSBC’s put down on President Buhari is no more than an expression of frustration over the administration’s measures put in place which has abolished grand corruption, the type which this bank thrives on in many countries.”
The statement noted that the HSBC report may be an attempt to “discredit the President out of the fear of sanctions and fines following the national assets that are stolen”.
The statement continued: “Our investigation agencies believe that HSBC had laundered more than USD 100,000,000 for the late General Sani Abacha in Jersey, Paris, London and Geneva.
“Among these accounts on the records are: AC: S-104460 HSBC Fund Admin Ltd. Jersey ($12,000,000); AC 37060762 HSBC Life (Europe), U.K ($20,000,000) and AC: 38175076 HSBC Bank Plc. U.K ($1,600,000).
“The bank is also suspected in the laundering of proceeds of corruption involving more than 50 other Nigerians, including a serving Senator as earlier indicated.
“In a book, ‘Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation’, published in 2017, Jack Bernstein told the story of global money laundering highlighting the unenviable place of the HSBC.
“This is a bank that states and federal authorities in the U.S. forced to pay $1.92 billion to settle charges of money laundering; fined $1.2 billion in Hong Kong for “systemic deficiencies” in bond sales and was made to pay $100 million in currency rigging settlement as reported by The Telegraph of 18th January, 2018.”