The federal government says HSBC Bank has no moral right to criticise President Muhammadu Buhari or predict that his second term would stunt the economy.
In a statement released on Saturday by Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, the federal government accused the bank of laundering more than $100 million for late Sani Abacha, former Nigerian military head of state.
In a report released on September 6, the bank had predicted that a second tenure of the current president would stunt the economy and that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would win the 2019 election.
“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,” the statement read.
“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.”
Shehu advised the bank to follow President Buhari’s advice that it return stolen assets.
“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,” the presidential aide said.
“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.
“They may also just be out to discredit the President out of the fear of sanctions and fines following the national assets that are stolen.”
Shehu said Jack Bernstein told the story of how the bank was allegedly involved in money laundering in his book, Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation.
He also quoted a report published by The Telegraph on January 18, 2018, where it was reported that the bank was made to pay $100 million for currency rigging settlement.