UK paid £9 MILLION to leather scheme, but containers filled with ROCKS

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An investigation learned that massive amounts of aid was paid into a project designed to boost Nigerian leather exports.

But not only was the scheme breathtakingly corrupt but the Department for International Development turned a blind eye to any wrongdoing.

Radio 4’s File on Four found £9million had been spent on the scheme which, according to official figures led to a 700 per cent increase in exports.

However, a consultant said the figures were ‘impossible’ as they would have required the slaughter of millions of animals.

He said: “‘Over-invoicing is fairly simple but the level of this scam, I gather from talking to people in the industry internationally, is that the 2010 figures would have required tens of millions of animals to be slaughtered in that one year, an impossibility.

“So what you do is ship empty containers full of rocks, get someone in customs to sign off that they are official exports without checking their contents, get some paperwork done in the importing country and then collect up some unbankable cash that needs cleaning so to speak and send it back to Nigeria where the government pays you an extra 30 per cent for your laundry work and issues you with a trade able foreign currency certificate.

“The funds are now as white as snow and fully legal. You don’t even need to export the leather.”

The consultant said the department had been told about the scam, but said the people who had tipped them off ‘got the feeling that Dfid would rather have not been told’

He added: “The guys in the project were very disillusioned, I mean you can imagine, they have just uncovered a fraud worth £2billion dollars… and nobody wants to do anything about it.

“Why spend £9m of taxpayer’s money to help an important industry in a country when there is this level of basic theft going on.”

A Dfid spokesman said: “We have a zero tolerance approach to corruption and where there are concerns we take swift and robust action.”

Nigeria is Africa’s richest country according to IMF figures, with a GDP of £323billion.

Most of the country’s wealth comes from its gigantic oil reserves, making it the world’s 20th largest economy.

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