South Africa authorities have expressed suspicion the $9.3 million ferried into the country by two Nigerians and one Israeli aboard a private jet last week was meant to be laundered. Upon court order, the money has been seized and forfeited to the South African government. Although the Nigerian government said the money was meant for arms purchase for the Nigerian Intelligence Agencies, the South African agencies involved in the investigation have spurned the claims.
The investigating agencies - South Africa’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) and the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) – cited a breach of the laws regarding the transfer of cash in large proportion.
Media reports have quoted the agencies as saying in a statement, “The money was initially detained by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) as it was not disclosed or declared at customs, and was above the prescribed legal limit for the amount of cash that may be brought into the country.”
The NPA was also said to be investigating Tier One Services Group, the firm the Nigerian government said it wanted to buy the arms from. It said the Tier One was not authorised to sell or rent military hardware.
“In court papers, the NPA submitted evidence that Tier One is not registered with the National Conventional Arms Control Committee and is thus not authorised to enter into any agreements regarding the sale and/or rental of military equipment,” the statement read. The involvement of Cyprus based company, ESD International Group Ltd, has also fuelled the agencies suspicion the money was meant to be laundered.
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Senate, on Wednesday, invited the National Security Adviser ,NSA, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh and Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Kenneth Minimah over the contentious money.