Britain has given almost £3billion in aid to the world’s most corrupt countries, it emerged last night. Official figures reveal that Britain has handed £2.7billion to the world’s ten most corrupt countries since 2010. The figures came after Prime Minister David Cameron was caught on camera describing Nigeria and Afghanistan as being ‘fantastically corrupt’. He was speaking ahead of today’s anti-corruption summit, where representatives of more than 40 countries will gather in London for talks on tackling global corruption. In response, Nigerian leaders yesterday demanded Mr Cameron return billions of pounds stolen by crooked officials and laundered in Britain with ‘no questions asked’.
The two states, whose presidents will attend today’s summit, receive £435million a year from British taxpayers – a figure that has risen 35 per cent since Mr Cameron took office in 2010. The Prime Minister was accused of ‘encouraging’ endemic corruption in the West African country by allowing cash creamed off government projects to be pumped into British banks, luxury homes, car dealerships and private schools. Asked about Mr Cameron’s comments as he attended the start of the conference, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari said: ‘I am not going to demand any apology from anybody. What I am demanding is the return of the assets.’
A letter sent to Mr Cameron by 40 civil groups in Nigeria ahead of the conference had warned that efforts to fight corruption within Nigeria were undermined by the failure to tackle laundering in the UK. It said: ‘It is ironic that the countries that pride themselves on their own lack of corruption are the very ones providing most of the corruption services to our corrupt officials.’Nigerian senator Dino Melaye also accused Mr Cameron of being ‘deeply offensive’ and demanded a crackdown on the UK’s role as a ‘safe haven’ to launder stolen cash. He told the Daily Mail: ‘We want an apology from Mr Cameron. His reckless and demeaning statement has insulted the integrity of our country.‘Many major banks in the United Kingdom promote non-disclosure agreements.
‘It allows people to steal from our economy then warehouse it in the United Kingdom. Money is also put into luxury homes and other forms, with no questions asked.’ He said the amount of stolen cash laundered in the UK ‘runs to billions of pounds’. Chukwuka Utazi, chairman of Nigeria’s senate committee on anti-corruption, said: ‘As long as the criminals steal and Britain is ready to take the proceeds it will continue.’ The Afghan embassy in London yesterday described Mr Cameron’s comments as ‘unfair’, saying the country was making major efforts to tackle corruption. The country, which is ranked as the third most corrupt nation by Transparency International, has been handed £1billion of taxpayers’ money. Somalia, ranked the most corrupt country, has received £583million.
MP Philip Davies yesterday called on Mr Cameron to suspend all aid to corrupt countries ‘until they have cleaned up their act’. But he rejected his call, saying Britain had an ‘important moral responsibility’ to provide aid, which he said helped tackle problems like mass migration and terrorism. Mr Cameron will today call for a ‘truly global solution’ to the ‘evil of corruption’. But Panama, the British Virgin Islands and the football body Fifa, which have all faced serious accusations of corruption, will all be absent from the conference.
An Oxfam spokesman described their absence as ‘disappointing’, and urged the Prime Minister to do more to tackle secretive tax regimes in British overseas territories. The spokesman said efforts to tackle corruption ‘will not prevent rampant tax dodging unless the same standards are also extended to UK-linked tax havens’. Hamzat Lawal of Connected Development – which is trying to track how Nigerian government and British aid money is spent – said it is often ‘extremely difficult’. He said: ‘We know some money is creamed off and goes to Britain but the exact details are very murky.’ Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International, said: ‘By providing a safe haven for corrupt assets, the UK and its overseas territories and crown dependencies are a big part of the world’s corruption problem.’
Source: DAILY MAIL