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 hard 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.”