World Bank president explains role in Abacha loot spending

World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, PHOTO: AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM

President of World Bank Group, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, is insisting that it played only a limited role in the spending of recovered loot from late Gen. Sani Abacha, as “the funds were returned directly from Switzerland to the Nigerian government.”

The bank was responding to the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP’s) letter dated April 28, 2017, seeking clarifications on its role in the spending of recovered funds stolen by Abacha.

Kim in a letter received by SERAP yesterday said “The Bank’s role in this particular case was limited by the design and different from the type of comprehensive audits we can do when funds are spent in projects supported by the bank.”

The letter signed on his behalf by World Bank Country Director for Nigeria Africa Region, Rachid Benmessaoud, reads in part: “The funds were returned directly from Switzerland to the Nigerian government. They were programmed into the national budget and utilized by the Nigerian government in line with its National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS). As agreed with the Nigerian and Swiss governments, the bank’s role was limited to carrying out an ex-post analysis on their use with a particular focus on their contribution to the NEEDS.

“We do share your deep commitment to fighting corruption and promoting transparency and accountability. These are key ingredients to successful development and economic wellbeing.’’

We believe that the work organizations like SERAP are doing is critical to achieve our common goal of improving the lives of people in Nigeria and beyond.”

The World Bank had early in the year told SERAP that it could not locate any additional information on the projects executed with recovered stolen public funds by the late Abacha.

But dissatisfied, SERAP petitioned Dr. Kim requesting him to use his “good offices and leadership position to urgently address the public perception that the World Bank is seeking to distance itself from responsibility over alleged mismanagement in the spending of recovered Abacha loot.”

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