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Monday
Oct182010

Nigeria Bribes Alleged In Securency Case

There were three more arrests last week in the corruption investigation of Securency International Pty Ltd, the polymer banknote maker half owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

The U.K.'s Serious Fraud Office said a sixty-three year old British man, and a British couple who are residents of Spain, were arrested in London. All three, the SFO said, were interviewed and later released on bail.

An Australian newspaper, the Age, said the arrests concerned multimillion-dollar bribes allegedly financed by Securency and "given to senior Nigerian officials in return for a massive polymer banknote contract."

A week earlier, SFO officers and local police executed search warrants at eight residences and a business in the U.K. Two people were detained for questioning but no charges were filed.

The business was identified in the Australian press as Innovia Films, the Reserve Bank of Australia's partner in Securency.

The SFO said its joint investigation with the Australian federal police involves the activities of employees and agents of Securency.

The Age said the British couple were arrested at a London airport and questioned by SFO officers "about their links to about $1 million that Securency wired to overseas accounts." The couple, both in their forties, are believed to have "connections to Britain's Conservative Party."

Last week, anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness released a report about how banks in Britain accepted deposits from corrupt Nigerian politicians between 1999 and 2005, including millions of dollars in bribe money. Global Witness named Barclays, NatWest, RBS, HSBC, and UBS.

Securency's board released an independent audit in March this year that showed the company's agents were paid almost $50 million in commissions from 2003 through 2009.

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