Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
In a bid to curb money laundering (ML) and illicit financial flows (IFFs), the European Union (EU) and Transparency International (TI), in collaboration with the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) on Thursday officially launched the anti-money laundering tracker for Nigeria and other West African countries.
The launch is part of project, “Turning up the Pressure: Tackling Money Laundering through Multi Stakeholder Approaches in ECOWAS Countries.”
The head of TI in Nigeria and Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, while speaking the launch in Abuja, disclosed that the tracker will highlight the fact that money laundering is a cancer that dries out the resources from a rich continent stricken by poverty and deprivation.
Rafsanjani, who was represented by Adeshina Oke, stated that around US$1 trillion of illicit financial flows leave developing countries through companies with hidden ownership, according to the Financial Transparency Coalition.
He observed that due to loopholes, most African assets, legally and illegally obtained, “end up in tax havens, anonymous shell companies in exotic places or countries with sophisticated financial and banking systems.”
While admitting that the current administration of President,
Muhammadu Buhari had made for some progress in tackling IFFs and money laundering, Rafsanjani pointed out that the problem of investigating, prosecuting and sanctioning money laundering, especially politically-exposed persons still persist.
He said: “This is a cog in the wheel of our AML regime. It also puts to question the effectiveness of our lawenforcement institutions, efficiency of feedback mechanisms, interagency cooperation and the level of transparency of our financial institutions. I believe that this problem is not specific to Nigeria.
“I hope that the launch of the online tool, supported by the European Union through the Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin, designed to monitor in real time the level of implementation of AML recommendations and commitments by the West African governments will contribute to the remedy of the epidemic of African assets leaving Africa illegally,” he said.
Similarly, Jessica Ebrard of the Transparency International (TI), at the launch, revealed that money laundering and illicit financial flows, negatively impact many developing economies.
She noted that it was therefore imperative to access the preventive and punitive measures and the effectiveness and level of compliance to those measures.