New Zealand remains the most corruption-free country in the world in the latest Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI), with Nigeria wallowing somewhere around number 143 in the world. But the following story shows that not all that glitters is gold.
Sometime in April 2009, when Hui “Leo” Gao’s bank mistakenly deposited about $8.2 million USD into his business account, the New Zealander did the following:
He siphoned close to $6.8 million from his business account to personal accounts in his name and in his parents’ accounts. He also transferred more than $347,000 to casino accounts in Macau. He then fled New Zealand. His then-girlfriend, who gave birth to their son while on the run, followed four days later and opened a “player’s account” at the casino with her passport. Later, another $2.2 million was funneled to the same casino, but this time under Gao’s father’s name, Alex Wang.
Gao was arrested in September, 2011 when he tried to cross from mainland China to Hong Kong. Of course, he didn’t oppose being extradited, and was returned to New Zealand in late December. Being from a corruption-free country, and a “honest” person, Gao pleaded guilty to theft charges in June, and at his sentencing, his lawyer, Ron Mansfield, told the court his client could not resist the temptation placed in front of him by human error. Gao has been sentenced to five years in prison.
One would wonder what befell of Gao’s family members, who were all accomplices – either willingly or unwillingly – in the crime. Or perhaps they are not New Zealanders?
A lot of people talk about how Nigerians are corrupt – both the leaders and the followers. But, when Durojaiye Adeyemi Job, a polytechnic student, checked his account balance sometime in October, 2010, and found that it had been mistakenly credited with N9.3 billion, he didn’t withdraw a substantial amount and abscond.
Also, when Umeh Usuah, an Abuja taxi cab driver found about N18 million misplaced in his car, he did not run away with it. And his case is certainly not the first; there was the case of Muibi Sonubi, another taxi driver decades ago. There are other more recent stories – the cleaner at the Muritala Mohammed International Airport who found and returned about 7 million naira; there is also another story of a hotel laundryman, and the list goes on.
Yes these are just a few cases. But Nigeria is supposed to be one of the most corrupt countries in the world while New Zealand is supposed to be the corruption-free country!