Corrupt African leaders have stolen at least $140bn (£95bn) from their people in the decades since independence, says the Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo.
He accused European countries of “sitting” on much of the stolen money stashed in European banks. There was little action from Europe to try to bring back the money to Africa and improve living conditions. European countries and banks providing a safe haven for stolen African money had to share the guilt. He said Africa needed a watertight international convention to allow money hidden in foreign bank accounts to be repatriated.
“A man who provides a safe haven for stolen things is equally guilty as the one who stole the things,” Mr Obasanjo told representatives of African civic groups meeting in the Ethiopian capital to prepare the African Union to be launched in South Africa in six weeks.
The Nigerian leader had been defending a deal he made with the family of his late predecessor, Sani Abacha. It handed over $2bn looted from Nigeria but retained $100m. Mr Obasanjo said he was forced into the deal because European banks insisted on proof the money was stolen, although the Abachas had no business that had a $2bn turnover.
Basildon Peta in Addis Ababa, Independent (U.K.), June 14, 2002