Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has asked the World Bank to help Africa’s largest economy recover $320 million stolen and hidden in Swiss bank accounts by late military dictator Sani Abacha.
Buhari made the appeal during a visit by the World Bank Group Chief Operating Officer Sri Mulyani Indrawati to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, according to a statement released by the president’s office. Authorities in Switzerland have agreed to return the funds on the condition that they are used for social programs in Nigeria monitored by the World Bank, according to the statement.
Buhari’s administration, which took office last year on an anti-corruption platform, has faced a cash crunch due to the falling price of oil which provided about two-thirds of government revenue and 90 percent of export earnings in 2014. Nigeria has been plagued for decades by graft and the nation came 136th out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s 2015 world corruption index, discouraging repatriation of stolen loot.
“We need the support of the World Bank for the repatriation of the funds,” Buhari said. “If such repatriated funds have been misapplied in the past, I assure you that the same will not happen with us.”