Two Chinese men have been arrested in Nigeria over alleged bribery to sway a probe of a Chinese firm, local media reported on Tuesday.

According to the Daily Post, the Chinese nationals offered 100 million naira (about $250,000) to an official of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The report identified the men as Meng Wei Kun and Xu Kuoi, representatives of China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited, a civil engineering company registered in Nigeria.

The company was awarded massive contracts worth 50 billion naira (around $125 million) by the government of Nigeria’s Zamfara state from 2012 to 2019, according to the report.

In a statement, the EFCC said it was “investigating the company in connection with the execution of contracts for the construction of township roads … and also solar-powered boreholes.”

The two men allegedly offered money to EFCC official Adullahi Lawal, who “played along” as part of a “grand design to trap the corrupt officials,” said the statement.

The Chinese nationals were arrested on Monday when they met Lawal to hand over 50 million naira (about $125,000) as the “first installment” of the bribe to “bury” the investigation, said the EFCC.

‘Fraudulent practices’

Earlier in April, China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited was debarred by the African Development Bank (AfDB) for 18 months “for fraudulent practices.”

An investigation by the AfDB anti-corruption unit found the company guilty of “fraudulent misrepresentations of its year of incorporation, the value of its reference contracts, and the experience of its key personnel.”

The misconduct was uncovered when the company bid for two tenders under the AfDB-financed Urban Water Supply and Sanitation Improvement Project in Nigeria.

“The debarment renders China Zhonghao Nigeria Limited and its affiliates ineligible to participate in Bank-financed projects during the debarment period,” the AfDB said in a statement on April 20.

“The debarment qualifies for cross-debarment by other multilateral development banks under the Agreement for Mutual Enforcement of Debarment Decisions, including the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank Group.”

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