Press Briefing: the EIB and corruption in Africa

Short summary of Nigerian case study to be presented:

“In poor countries [corruption] can kill. Money meant for drugs for a sick child, or to build a hospital, can be siphoned off into overseas bank accounts or to build a luxury house”, Hilary Benn, former UK Secretary of State for International Development

Through a private equity fund, ECP Africa Fund II, the EIB invested money in 3 Nigerian companies related to twice convicted, former Governor of the Nigerian oil producing Delta State, James Ibori . In addition the EIB approved a direct loan, in October 2007, to Intercontinental Bank, one of the three ECP investee companies at a time when the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had already made public its investigation of corruption and money laundering against James Ibori involving Intercontinental Bank and the two other ECP investee companies. Currently Ibori is in jail in the UK where he is facing 25 criminal charges. Several of his relatives and his UK lawyer that represented Notore, another of the ECP investee companies were earlier this year sentenced to jail in the UK for crimes related to Ibori’s money laundering and corruption.

Dotun Oloko, a Nigerian campaigner, made the EIB aware of the corruption and money laundering associated with the EIB investee companies but the EIB failed to take appropriate action. Oloko’s details were leaked to ECP and their Nigerian business partners forcing Oloko to leave his country. Despite private warnings and some media reporting on Ibori & co, the EIB kept on disbursing public money to ECP. Because of the EIB’s bad due diligence, the bank is not able to demonstrate that its money benefits the people that it is meant for. In cases like this it does more harm than good for African people. During the press briefing Oloko will testify about his two year struggle with officials of the EIB and Nigerian corruption.

Researcher Antonio Tricarico (Counter Balance) is the author of the ‘Hit & run development’ report in which he denounces the systematic lack of transparency related to EIB loans through financial intermediaries such as the ECP Africa Fund II. He will explain this case in the light of systemic failures of the EIB.

Eminent Nigerian lawyer and leading human rights activist Femi Falana has come from Nigeria to put this case in the wider context of how international financial institutions are facilitating corruption in Nigeria and Africa. Mr. Falana has a a long and distinguished history of fighting corruption and abuse of power in Nigeria and Africa.

The money the EIB lends in Africa comes from the European Development Fund and is invested through the Investment Facility. This is so far not controlled by EP nor European Court of Auditors. It is high time this should change, according to MEP Bart Staes, rapporteur on the discharge in respect of the budget of the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth European Development Funds (EDF) for the financial year 2009.

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