News

FG: Secret ownership of stolen funds undermining Africa’s devt

…says walls must be broken

The Federal Government has expressed serious concerns over secret corporate ownership of looted public funds from Nigeria and other African countries by the international community, saying the development was largely responsible for the continent’s underdevelopment.

 

It noted that such beneficial ownership by international jurisdictions, left devastating effect on the economies of African nation’s.

 

The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), made the position, Tuesday, in an address at the opening of the 20th anniversary of the Africa Regional Webinar of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC).
The 2-Day webinar with the theme, “Combating Corruption And Illicit Financial Flows: New Measures And Strategies”, was organised in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the ICPC.

 

As part of activities marking its 20th anniversary, the Commission organised a series of events, including an essay competition, integrity awards and national musical competition.

 

While appealing for introspection on the part of culpable foreign nations, the vice president enjoined regional governments to work towards “breaking the walls” surrounding the secrecy of stolen patrimony stashed abroad.

 

Apart from the consequential conflict of interests that he said accompanied the secret corporate ownership of looted funds, and other proceeds of crime, Osinbajo listed other “sins” as corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.

 

“Over the years, massive public resources and assets have been directly stolen, diverted, deliberately misapplied to gratify corrupt tendencies, stashed in foreign jurisdictions or mired in and susceptible to pilferage by the inequitable and unjust international economic system that continues to undermine the social and economic development aspirations of poor countries especially from Africa”, the VP said.

 

According to him: “One more matter of concern that the international community must work together to solve is the matter of secret corporate ownership and the whole issue of beneficial ownership.

 

“For us in the developing world and especially in Africa, breaking the wall of secret corporate ownership is crucial because secrecy around corporate ownership is implicated in our underdevelopment. Although anonymous companies are not always illegal, nevertheless secrecy provides a convenient cover for criminality and corruption.

 

“Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.”

 

In acknowledging the fact that not all undisclosed concerns were illegal, the Vice President, however, maintained that anonymity of identities provided safe haven for criminal tendencies.

 

His words: “Although anonymous companies are not always illegal, nevertheless secrecy provides a convenient cover for criminality and corruption.

 

“Our experience in Nigeria as in other developing countries is that anonymous corporate ownership covers a multitude of sins including conflict of interests, corruption, tax evasion, money laundering, and even terrorism financing.”

 

Nonetheless, Osinbajo maintained that the federal government had continued to lead advocacy campaign to curb illicit financial flows, amidst international cooperation.

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