UK, Nigeria sign MoU to curb corruption

The United . Kingdom on Monday said it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that would enable it to return to Nigeria £210,610 compensation relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector.

The British High Commission in Nigeria in a statement said the compensation was made following a successful investigation by the U.K’s Serious Fraud Office.

It said that the MOU was signed on Monday by the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in a joint commitment to continue the fight against corruption.

The commission said that the MoU was signed by the Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, and the Attorney General for Nigeria, Abubakar Malami.

It said that the MoU sets out the terms and understanding between the UK Government and the Nigerian Government to make this compensation payment.

The U.K. Minister for Africa, Vicky Ford said: “The security and defence dialogue held in February 2022 between our two countries reaffirmed both the UK and Nigeria’s commitment to work together to tackle illicit financial flows, bribery and corruption.

“The UK has a zero tolerance policy to corruption and we hope that today’s signing sends a clear statement about our commitment to this.

“In a global economy where international trade is vital, it is more important than ever that companies operate with integrity and transparency.

“Illicit financial flows, bribery and corruption stifle economic growth, trade, stable governance and the security of both our countries,” Ford said.

The minister said that the compensation payment from the UK to Nigeria was secured after a four-year corruption investigation led by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) in the U.K.

Ford said: “The money was obtained through a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), which is when a prosecutor agrees to defer prosecution in exchange for the defendant agreeing to fulfil certain requirements such as a accepting criminal liability for offences and paying the appropriate compensation.

The minister said that in this case, the DPA was agreed with Amec Foster Wheeler (AFWEL), relating to the use of corrupt agents in the oil and gas sector.

“The compensation payment from the UK to Nigeria demonstrates that when such acts of crime are identified, the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will investigate these companies and where evidence is found will ensure that they face appropriate sanctions.

“Last year March, the U.K Government returned £4.2 million to Nigeria from funds recovered from associates of the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori.

“On this occasion, the Government of the United Kingdom will transfer the compensation amount in the sum of £210,610 (N118.4 million) within twenty-eight (28) days from the date of signing this MOU,” Ford said.

The minister noted that in both instances, the MoU’s confirm that the Nigerian government has pledged to use the returned funds for projects that would benefit and improve the country.

Lisa Osofsky, Director of the Serious Fraud Office, said: “We have a zero tolerance approach to companies who think they can bribe their way to financial success.

She said that bribery and corruption not only stifles real economic growth and free trade, but also damage democracy and therefore risk the security of countries.

“I am of course delighted that the tenacity of my SFO colleagues has resulted in the people of Nigeria being compensated in a way that will truly benefit them” Osofsky said.

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