Nigeria/Africa Masterweb News Report
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Nigerian police chief 'let go for money laundering'
(Wednesday, January 19, 2005)
Nigeria's police chief had taken early retirement after investigators probing money laundering allegations found $7.5 million (R47.25 million) hidden in a network of bank accounts, officials said yesterday. Inspector general Tafa Balogun has been replaced by an acting chief and will formally retire on March 6, according to a statement from the government, which gave no reason for the 58-year-old's surprise departure.
But Sulaiman Ajibade, the deputy spokesperson for Nigeria's main anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said the veteran officer had been under investigation and was suspected of holding stolen funds. "The former inspector general is under investigation for money laundering, treasury bill and commercial papers scam," Ajibade said. "The commission has identified 11 different accounts in Fountain Trust Bank that have been traced to him. The amount involved is over 1 billion naira (R46 780)," he said.
"The investigation began last year and is continuing. Officials of the bank are also being quizzed. Money laundering is a financial crime but we cannot say if his retirement is connected with the investigation or a mere coincidence." Neither Balogun nor the chief police spokesperson were available for comment.
Nigeria's police force has a woeful reputation for large-scale corruption, from beat cops extorting bribes from motorists to senior officers taking payments to provide security squads for politicians and oil companies.
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