The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI) yesterday said developing countries lose about $1 trillion annually to illicit financial flows due to secret ownership of companies. NEITI Executive Secretary, Dr. Ogbonnaya Orji, who made this known at a stakeholders’ forum on Beneficial Ownership Implementation in Nigeria in Abuja, said secret ownership of companies posed grave danger to individual countries and the global community.
While quoting a recent report by former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, who estimated an annual loss of $50 to illicit financial flows by African countries, Ogbonnaya said secret ownership was a threat to national security and increases poverty in developing countries through crimes such as tax evasion and terrorism financing.
According to him, the Beneficial Ownership register, which was launched in December, 2019, currently displayed 181 beneficial owners in 49 oil and gas companies and 205 beneficial owners in 76 solid minerals companies. He said: “Nigeria accounts for the lion share of these losses, with extractive industry accounting for 93 per cent of total illicit financial flows from Nigeria.” Registrar-General, Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, Garba Abubakar, said with the new company law, information on anyone with reasonable ownership in a company in the country would be made public