The Chinese men were accused of attempting to bribe an official of the EFCC with N50 million to compromise an ongoing investigation on a Chinese firm.
The Court of Appeal in Sokoto, Sokoto State, has convicted two Chinese nationals of money laundering involving an attempt to bribe an investigative officer with N50 million cash.
The convicts – Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuai – got away with only three years’ imprisonment with an option of a cumulative N20 million fine on the two counts they were convicted of.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused them of attempting to bribe its official with N50 million cash to compromise an ongoing criminal investigation on a Chinese firm.
According to a statement by the EFCC on Friday, the Chinese men gave the N50 million cash to the zonal head of the agency in Sokoto, Abdullahi Lawal, in May 2011, to compromise an ongoing criminal investigation of China Zhongao Nigeria Ltd.
The money, under Nigeria’s money laundering prohibition law, exceeded the N5 million cash threshold an individual is allowed to transact with.
EFCC said in its statement that the Federal High Court, Sokoto, had initially discharged and acquitted the two Chinese nationals of all three charges preferred against them.
But a panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal in Sokoto overturned the acquittal on Friday.
Delivering the lead judgement of the appellate court, a member of the panel, Abubakar Talba, described the Federal High Court’s decision that acquitted the Chinese men as “fiction”.
Mr Talba said in their home country, the Chinese men would have got the death penalty for the same offences.
The judge noted that “the respondents are Chinese and an offence of this gravity in their home country attracts the death penalty yet here they are corrupting our country.”
“The courts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will not condone corruption in any way; as President Muhammadu Buhari has said ‘if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria’,” Mr Talba added.
The judge went on to sentence the Chinese men to three years imprisonment on two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and money laundering.
The court acquitted convicts on the third count.
EFCC said the court then sentenced the Chinese nationals to three years on each of the two counts they were found guilty of with an option of N10 million fine on each.