The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has said that economic crime is a global problem that requires collaboration of countries in sharing strategic information to stop the network of such crimes.
Delivering a keynote speech monday at the opening of the 34th Cambridge University prestigious International Symposium on Economic Crime, at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, Amaechi insisted that countries need to partner to tackle economic crime.
In his address titled: ‘Beyond Blame Game: The Imperative of Tackling Economic Crime Together,’ Amaechi said economic crime was often committed in an organised manner involving several people across countries through multiple jurisdictions.
According to him, such crimes may originate from one country, but it often involves the participation of clandestine, criminal networks operating in different countries, playing one role or the other and benefiting from such illicit proceeds.
“At the seventh African Union and Economic Commission for Africa conference that held in Abuja back in 2014, the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, stated that Africa loses between $50 billion to $60 billion annually as a result of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF). These are said to occur through forms of tax avoidance including transfer pricing or mispricing- depending on which side you are- through which multinationals minimize their tax obligations by shifting their profits from high tax to low tax jurisdiction thereby short-changing some of their host countries especially in the developing world and draining them of legitimate revenue, impeding their projects and denying their population access to basic services,” Amaechi said.
He further explained that since economic crimes are committed through networks spreading over countries, it is a global problem that can only be effectively tackled through global collaboration and partnership.
Amaechi stated that for countries to collaborate, the public and private sectors especially the banks must come into collaboration beyond high sounding rhetoric and public relations. According to him, institutions from both developed and developing countries must learn to share information and act swiftly to erode the efficacy of these networks to successfully use any jurisdiction either as transit routes or safe havens for proceeds of economic crime.
The minister added that strong, effective, regulatory and enforcement capabilities must be encouraged both domestically and internationally through technical cooperation.
“Partnerships must be encouraged to provide platforms to share best practices and intelligence and strengthen legislations between jurisdictions,” he added.
He also noted that leaders across countries and institutions must take responsibility when economic crime or corruption happens.
“That is what it means to be held accountable. In doing so, leadership is expected to do three simple things; perhaps four. They are – upholding the primacy of leadership and political will, insisting on the force of example, enforcing the urgency of incentives and the necessity of sanctions and finally by leveraging on the power of partnership.
“As someone who has been in active politics for more than thirty years, I have learnt that many well intended reforms are possible only if the leader can offer the requisite leadership and muster the right political will. In my country, since our President, Muhammadu Buhari was elected, he did not leave anyone in doubt that the fight against corruption will not only be taken seriously but will form a cardinal plank of his policy direction,” Amaechi said.
The Attorney-General of England and Wales and Advocate General of Northern Ireland, Rt. Hon. Jeremy Wright, also spoke on the first day of the week-long symposium.