Africa & Beyond

Swiss Banks: Demands by America and Nigeria

The federal government of the United States is currently negotiating modalities for unraveling the tax evasion crimes allegedly committed by some 52,000 American citizens through offshore banking which they conducted with banks and financial institutions in Switzerland.

The current development above, is in addition to, actions taken by the governments and financial institutions in Europe and North America, shortly after the attacks on America on September 11, 2001. Actions which were rapid, speedy and swift.

These collection of actions culminated in the freezing and embargoing of any money and or, other financial instruments connected to anyone from the Middle East or anyone of Arab descent, who was considered a real or an imagined terrorist.

At that time, it did not even matter whether the persons or institutions so suspected, were in fact connected to terrorist acts or whether they were contemplating and or in any conspiracy to commit terrorism. A mere suspicious, a mere allegation, a mere connection to some persons or charity, no matter how remote or tenuous, such, was considered by the George W. Bush government to be sufficient excuse, to freeze and embargo accounts, and, arrest and detain, even without trial, persons that have been, as such, suspected or accused, rightly or wrongly.

The Bush government’s rationale was spelt out and pursued, premised on a mantra of, you are either with America in the fight against terror, or you are against America. Mr. Bush pointedly stated that America would visit unpleasantness on anyone, organization or country that harbored persons suspected of terrorism or harbored resources for suspected terrorists.

Countries around the world, and in particular, Europe and the Americas, complied speedily. Banks and financial institutions were falling over one, after the other, to comply with Mr. Bush’s government’s demands across the board. This development was in of itself, not necessarily an evil one; Except of course for this one detail. Which is this? Prior to September 11, 2001,Transparency International and the rest of the world, cried to high heavens regarding the looting of public treasuries with impunity, looting and pillaging by government officials, elected or appointed, including those who usurped political power through barrel of the gun military coup or putsch.

It was widely and wildly believed, known or suspected, that those public officials who plunder and pillage public funds, had identical affection and preference for Swiss Banks and its secrecy and confidentiality rules. Rules, which barred Swiss Banks and government from divulging any information pertaining to lodgments of assets in Swiss Banks and other financial institutions. Even where the Swiss Banks and government suspects and or knows, that the assets and resources are proceeds of crimes such as terrorism, money laundry or corruption? Proceeds not from legitimate enterprises or proceeds not derived from the provision of goods and services. Why would they knowingly shroud a criminal? Or obfuscate issues with banking secrecy and confidentiality?

Money which leaves Nigeria, nay Africa, becomes part Swiss bottom line, part of Swiss GDP and become Swiss asset and resource. This means, that a sudden return of this chunks of money to Nigeria would cause a financial seismic shift to Nigeria’s advantage. It just so happens as history has it, slave trade and colonialism after it, saw to it, that Africans were tools and a major factor in western development, and now again, we are witnessing usurpation of African assets and resources through new routes and machinations.

It is common knowledge, that Nigeria and a majority of other African countries, have been subjected to economic paralysis and underdevelopment, as a consequence of looting, pillage and plunder by those elected, appointed or those, who shot their way to power.

It is common knowledge, that these loots are more often than not, siphoned into these offshore safe havens outside of Africa. There are therefore questions that arise; why would these angels in Switzerland, Europe and North America act as safe havens for the lucifers of Africa? Why would the incorruptible and decent people, savor being bankers for rogues, monsters and agents of death and peddlers of misery? Why would decent peoples and decent governments of Europe act in cahoots with looters by providing safe havens and succor to those who loot with impunity and without remorse? Why would these same peoples and governments turn around to loudly proclaim their detest of corruption and agents of corruption from our shores?

What exactly shall we call any citizen, institution and or government which protects and shields stolen property? An accomplice and an accessory after the fact, with complete complicity and duplicity with the perpetrator or principal.

And more to my point, in all of these. Nigeria during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, vigorously pursued loot retrieval and repatriation as a national policy. This have meant a vigorous and prodigious pursuit of Nigerian assets and resources, in banks and other financial institutions in America and Europe, places, where looters have lodged such assets and resources. Nigeria expended money, huge amounts of money and energy, battling foreign banks and governments, in efforts to retrieve these loots. Foreign banks and governments, fought Nigeria’s efforts, every step, after another step of the way.

The stiff and unprecedented resistance to Nigeria’s retrieval and repatriation of assets and resources wrongly siphoned from Nigeria in the first place, were spectacular and extraordinary. This resistance have been vehement and has been uniformly so everywhere, but more particularly so in Switzerland. Switzerland prided herself as having secrecy and confidentiality in banking as second-nature, all that, until Mr. Bush showed up after September 11, 2001 upon which Mr. Bush demanded that the Swiss and everyone else promptly open their bank vaults for search terrorists who were then claimed to be every where, and everyone, including the Swiss complied!

Now, President Obama of the United States, for a different reason, quite unrelated to Mr. George W. Bush’s phantom war on terror, has asked the same Swiss Banking system and the government of Switzerland, to divulge and disclose the banking specificities of 52,000 Americans who may have in the process, evaded payments of American taxes on their earnings and the Swiss are literarily, kicking and screaming, but in all, obliging the American government with her demand, but, wait, why does the same courtesy not apply to Nigeria? Why is there this double-standards in these matters?

Why is it, that those who accuse us and proclaim publicly, the vapidity of corruption, are the same ones protecting the corrupt thieves and their plunder? Why is it, that those who are quick to scandalize Nigeria’s name regarding corruption, are the same ones who are splendidly uninterested in being on Nigeria’s side, in efforts to retrieve assets and resources which were stolen from Nigeria and stashed in their banks in America, Europe and Switzerland in particular? What explains this double standard?

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