Money Laundering: TI, EU, Others, to Track Illicit Financial Flow in Nigeria

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• Say FG loses over $50 billion to IFF annually

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

In a move to end money laundering in the country, Transparency International (TI), in partnership with the European Union (EU) and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy (CISLAC) yesterday announced the development of a tracking platform to monitor illicit financial flow (IFF) and money laundering in the country.

The group, which added that the federal government loses over $50 billion to IFF annually, made this declaration during its stakeholders’ conference in Abuja.

The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), while delivering his speech at the event, noted that “the development of the tracking website will ensure transparency in public contracting which has been a major source of IFF in Nigeria.”

According to him, “Despite the promise of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, to fight corruption, corruption is still notorious.”

The CISLAC boss noted that Illicit financial flows through money laundering had continued to soar in Nigeria due to the failure of government and law enforcement agencies to respect and fully implement existing laws against the crime in Nigeria.

He said despite the ratification of relevant international convention and domestic legal framework in place, Nigeria loses over $50 billion to the these antics annually.

“We are not successful in the punishment and prevention of financial fraud and money laundering. And, until government institutions and enforcement agencies wake up to deal with the issue of implementation, Nigeria will continue to suffer the negative effects of the menace.

“The present government rode to power on the promise to fight corruption. And according to a report by the Price Waterhouse Coopers on Impact of corruption on Nigerian Economy, ‘corruption in Nigeria could cost up to 37 per cent of gross domestic oroducts (GDP) by 2030 if not dealt with immediately. This cost is equated to around $1.000 per person in 2014 and nearly $2,000 per person by 2030

“In February 2018, the Transparency International through CISLAC, its national contact, released the Corruption Perception Index (CPI), and Nigeria slipped down in the global rankings, an indication that there is a decline in the fight against corruption,” Auwal explained.

Nigeria is ranked 148 out of 180 countries, with a 27 per cent score out of l00 per cent. In 2016, Nigeria ranked 136th. In West Africa, Nigeria is second worst – ahead of Guinea Bissau. Corruption persists in the country at all levels costing taxpayers 25 per cent of annual GDP.

The Executive Director, CISLAC, represented by Programme Manager, Democratic Governance (DE), Okeke Anya, hinted that the impact of money laundering and illicit financial flows, made Nigeria to lose about $50 billion to IFF through money laundering, tax evasion and corruption.

He pointed out that in 2013, Nigeria recorded 3198 Suspicious Transactions Reports (STRs); 61 were disseminated to law enforcement agencies but no investigation followed or prosecution was recorded.

“Money laundering and illicit financial flows siphone the much needed resources for economic development to the pockets of self-serving individuals at the detriment of the majority aided by international financial banking system and legal loopholes.”

“Public contracting is also bedeviled by lack if transparency and abuse. There is, therefore, the need for law enforcers to step up to the challenge of money laundering and ensure proper investigation, prosecution and conviction of perpetrators,” he said.