Ambassador Hans Rudolf Hodel, the Swiss envoy to Nigeria, told newsmen on Monday, April 27, 2015, after a meeting with the president-elect Gen. Muhammadu Buhari that Nigerians who are in the habit of shipping money into Swiss banks would have to prove that the money was acquired legally.
He said prior to this time, the Swiss banks were the ones who needed to prove the legality of the money in their banks but that the laws had been changed and that individuals would have to prove the legality of the money they were bringing in before they would be allowed to deposit such money in any Swiss bank. He said that collaboration between Nigerian government and its Swiss counterpart in fighting corruption is a long standing issue, adding “our laws are there to help all countries fighting corruption. We will help this government.
“If you remember, many years ago, we gave back the Abacha money to Nigeria. The situation in Switzerland has changed. The policy is no longer the same. In the past, people come to deposit money in Switzerland without too much controversy. Now, it is not possible to deposit money in Switzerland because of legal origin.
“Before now, the bank has to prove that the money is legal. But now, before you deposit money in any Swiss bank, you have to prove that you have earned that money legally.
“If you are a wealthy businessman, you have money in billions legally; but if, for example as a journalist, you come to Switzerland with two million dollars and say you earned it because you did a very good job, nobody will believe you.”
The Ambassador said that the Nigerian government and the Abacha family had sought the legal assistance of the Swiss government in retrieving the money and the Swiss government has offered that assistance.
On his meeting with Buhari, he said “Even if the relation is perfect, there is always room for improvement. Investors are looking towards Nigeria and it is a good example Nigeria gave to the world by its peaceful election.
“I congratulate the President-elect for this fantastic election and indeed the whole Nigeria people who have shown the world what they are capable of doing and with this election, Nigeria has become an example not only to Africa but to the whole world on how election can be conducted.”