Nigeria - Tracking The Fashanu Report
BYLINE: George Noah in London
Lagos - Millionaire businessman John Fashanu has compiled a report
known in international financial and media circles as the "Fashanu
Report" outlining a multi billion dollar secret Nigerian debt-buy-back
The report painstakingly compiled over a three-year period has been
turned over to the Federal Government with the aim of recovering a
sizeable amount of an estimated $17 billion of Nigeria's hard earned
money illegally stashed in European banks. Analysts say what Fashanu
has uncovered will almost certainly make the Abacha family loot look
like child's play.
By revealing the scam, the former football star who has become a
successful businessman will be locking horns with those who governed
Nigeria in the late 1980s and early 1990s when a dubious debt-buy-back
scheme running into billions of dollars was perpetrated. This scheme essentially involved an early
settlement of a debt, usually a one-off
payment substantially less than the outstanding amount. In brevity, it is an advanced form of factoring.
Although Fashanu has declined to name
names, it is only logical to assume that those he has accused of
stealing state funds include former dictator, the self-styled evil
genius, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, former Central Bank
governor, late Alhaji Ahmed Abdulkadir, what is left of the Abacha
family, retired military officers and their fat cat cronies.
The fraud, according to Fashanu, had to do with monies earmarked for
currency stabilisation and debt buy-back scheme, but these schemes were
valued at Pounds1.5 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria and there
are no records of other payments during the period. Nigeria's decision
to buy- back its debt in the late 80s was done behind closed doors
because it was technically illegal. But with official government
backing, two Americans, Jeffrey Schmidt and Robert Minton, with close
links to Babangida were hired to set up front companies and offshore
Minton himself makes no secret of the fact that he made stupendous
money through the scheme. He had admitted to the newsletter, Africa
Confidential that he made tens of millions of dollars, not hundreds of
millions and certainly not billions, through the controversial scheme.
The two Americans reportedly used a London-based company, Growth
Management, to buy back the debt at about 10 cents in a dollar and
later resold it to the government at about 45 cents in a dollar. Their
profits were 30 cents on each dollar under the debt-buy-back scheme.
They had bought the debt with funds from Nigeria channeled through a
leading Austrian bank.
"I have information on 200 bank accounts that the monies were paid
into. I have details of account numbers, identities of those involved,
dates and times these frauds were perpetrated. The chain runs from
Liechesten to Austria, Switzerland and USA (Chase Merchant Bank).
Austria and Switzerland's secret banking must be brought into question.
In a fair world those whose accounts have been frozen would be charged
for stealing including their accomplices".
Thirty-seven-year-old Fashanu, now Nigeria's official sports ambassador
had initially granted interviews with the newsletter, Africa
Confidential and London-based Sunday Times on what his crusade was all
about. However, in an extended interview with The News at his St John's
Wood, London office, Fashanu revealed that he has been investigating
what is arguably the largest fraud in banking history (except for the
collapse of the notorious Bank of Credit & Commerce in the mid 80s)
"One other person and I personally financed this investigation. I
consider it a duty. Nigeria's reputation reflects badly on all of us
and it is time it was cleaned up. As a Nigerian, I want this sorted
out," Fashanu said.
Whilst his critics have wondered why he had strayed into General Sani
Abacha's company whilst the dictator ruled Nigeria with an iron fist,
abused human rights with reckless abandon and looted the nation's coffers with military precision,
Fashanu says with hindsight he would
not have gotten near the controversial Two-million-man-march that was
organised for the then dying Abacha.
"Like other members of the national team who spoke only about football
during the event, I apologise. With hindsight it was wrong and one did
not do it to offend. I felt sorry for Segun Odegbami whilst he was
contesting for the NFA chairmanship position because this issue may
have marred his chances. I have been a UNICEF ambassador for 53
countries for seven years. As an ambassador, I have a role to play
where youths are concerned whether it's Babangida or Abacha that is in
power. At the Two-million-man-march, I wanted to identify with the youths. I carefully used the
opportunity to talk about sports. If
NADECO had invited me to address the youths, I would have done so".
Fashanu, a patron of Human Rights in Africa, who has used his influence
in brokering truces with Super Eagles players in the English Premier
League and the Nigerian Football Association, says what is at stake is
far more serious than the one-million-man-march.
"My motivation for exposing these illegal deals is influenced by
national pride. Let us get one thing clear. I am not a politician and I
am not looking for public office. I am honoured to be of assistance to
my country, and will do everything humanly possible to help and guide
Nigeria in taking our rightful place as the gateway to Africa. It is
sad to see our people living in penury, abject poverty, embarking on
prostitution when the monies meant for their welfare including
pipeborne water, electricity, medical care are being enjoyed by people
whole stole them from the nation. We stand at the dawn of a new era
while Nigeria takes its steps in democracy, we the people will continue
to prove to the rest of the world that we Nigerians are serious about
eradicating corruption and exposing financial crimes."
Fashanu said he stumbled into the fraud three years ago when he ran
checks on some potential business partners in Nigeria. "A lot of
information began to come out. It got bigger and bigger, until we were
looking at a fraud of, at least, $6 billion, involving 200 separate
bank accounts. One other person and I hired highly qualified
investigators in the UK and USA to probe deeper. The data we got after
three months was unbelievable. I have all the data and information on
the people who have stolen this money. I was even called anonymously
and, indeed, by Chris Vincent, a former Zimbabwean intelligence
officer, who offered me Pounds500,000 if I stopped making my enquiries.
I have all the discussion on tape. Vincent was later to spend six
months in jail. He was the one that these people sent to tell me to
back off. But I didn't, and the end result is what we now know today.
Vincent was the one that wanted Bruce Grobbelaar and myself sent to
jail for alleged match fixing but we were later acquitted. One
anonymous caller threatened me. He said I was playing Russian roulette.
For the best part of three years I suffered and my family suffered. All
this has cost money and pain but I will not rest until I achieve my
objective. And my objective is for the stolen money to be returned to
the nation's coffers. Maybe people don't know the pain I've been
through. I had to relocate three times and suffer the humiliation of my
bank accounts being frozen. But my patience has eventually paid off".
After assembling the data supplied by the private investigators,
Fashanu said he met Nigeria's High Commissioner to the UK, Prince Bola
Ajibola and handed over to him a dossier which has led to the freezing
of five bank accounts loaded with Pounds125 million in Switzerland and
Austria. "One account had $100 million dollars in it. The people
involved created a culture of evasiveness and have profited through
their practices. We are in the process of asking for official
assistance from the Swiss, Austrian and U.S. authorities to help
recover these diverted funds. The two Americans, Schmidt and Minton,
were considered big deal makers. They could manoeuvre, impress and
occasionally dazzle big financial operators by masterminding the
intricacies, technicalities and jargons of the big deal. But by
presenting these facts I can now educate the public about these dubious
characters within the international banking industry, which in recent years have proven themselves to
be unprincipled and totally profit
motivated. I believe I am working hand-in-hand with the government of
my country. I also believe in the Federal Government's anti-corruption
platform. This government is setting a moral tone. At the moment, I
have no intention of revealing the identities or embarrassing those
concerned. The only interest I have is getting Nigeria's money back. The monies stolen have led to
the deaths of many Nigerians. I am sick
and tired of seeing fellow Nigerians begging in the streets or joining
the unemployment market because of inadequate opportunities. I spent
eight months in Nigeria last year and realised how bad things are. I
was really moved. As a result I had to take the decision to hand the
information in my possession to the right person, who is the Nigerian
High Commissioner in the UK. I trust and respect him".
Fashanu says the information at his disposal is authentic and had been
crosschecked by leading investigative journalists including Africa
Confidential, UK Sunday Times. He said his associates had contacted the
U.S. State Department, IMF and World Bank, to ensure the stolen monies
are refunded. "The documents I have are in safe deposit houses and are,
indeed, safe. These banking transactions and the secondary markets
where the debt is traded must have stricter regulations and more
accountability so that this manipulation of Nigeria's debt and our
economy cannot happen again. From the information I have provided the
Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times will be focussing on the
issue to ensure that Nigeria's stolen funds are returned for nation
Copyright 2000 Africa News Service, Inc.
Anon news web interface. FAQ available for review at:
> The fraud, according to Fashanu, had to do with monies earmarked for
> currency stabilisation and debt buy-back scheme, but these schemes
> valued at Pounds1.5 billion by the Central Bank of Nigeria and there
> are no records of other payments during the period. Nigeria's decision
> to buy- back its debt in the late 80s was done behind closed doors
> because it was technically illegal. But with official government
> backing, two Americans, Jeffrey Schmidt and Robert Minton, with close
> links to Babangida were hired to set up front companies and offshore
By the end of 1992, the local currency had depreciated, foreign
reserves had declined and the per capita income had plunged, having
made Nigeria one of the worlds 15 poorest countries. The country had
also been hurt by the failure of oil prices to recover to 1985 levels,
since oil comprised about 97% of Nigerias export income.
The prices of Nigerian promissory notes and par bonds had been drifting
generally downward for the past 12 months.
The ideal scenario would have been for the government to persevere with
the economic policies prescribed by the countrys 1986 structural
adjustment program, despite the fact the economic conditions had
steadily worsened under the Babangida regime. Nigeria continued to
follow the proposals of the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank and removed a significant portion of the fiscal deficit with a new
exchange rate policy which did not bode well.
Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.