HC Deb 16 April 2002 vol 383 cc868-9W
Harry Cohen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evidence the SFO provided in answer to Nigerian and Swiss requests for assistance in the case of alleged money laundering using UK financial institutions by the late General Abacha; and if he will make a statement. [39004]

Mr. Blunkett

Ordinarily it is practice not to comment on international requests for mutual legal assistance in criminal matters as they concern on-going criminal proceedings. However, the fact of these requests have been acknowledged publicly by the Federal Government of Nigeria and in proceedings before the High Court.

Four requests for assistance were received from the Swiss authorities relating to criminal investigation of, inter alia, fraud and money laundering allegedly committed in violation of Swiss law. In execution of three of the requests, evidential material was transmitted by the Home Office to the Swiss authorities on 18 October 2001. The remaining request is being processed.

The request from the Federal Government of Nigeria, which concerns criminal investigations and proceedings relating to allegations of corruption and theft of public funds in Nigeria, is being processed. Prior to a decision of the Divisional Court, handed down on 18 October 2001, a High Court injunction prohibited my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State (Mr. Blunkett) dealing with the request. The Federal Government of Nigeria has indicated through its solicitors that it is pleased with the way in which its request is being dealt with by the Government.