The Nation’s Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, at the weekend in New York, United States of America, secured a high-level deal for the country in efforts to fight against illicit financial transactions across borders.
The deal, which involved global bodies, including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group, would run on high-level collaborations with Nigeria and other African countries to stop Illicit Financial Flows (IFF).
At the Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) conference held at the United Nations headquarters in New York, the Head of OECD Global Forum on Exchange of Information, Ms. Monica Bhatia, stated that automatic information sharing had been adopted as part of proactive steps to curtail the menace from the continent to developed countries.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically says that we must significantly reduce illicit financial flows by the year 2030. A lot of efforts are ongoing to achieve this and support developing countries to end IFFs,” she said.
Similarly, Adeosun told the conference that IFF is a problem that urgently requires global focus and actions to ensure the realisation of significant development progress for Nigeria and other developing countries.
The IFFs are driven by the desire to hide illicit wealth, hide the proceeds away from the public eye and law enforcement agencies and also conceal the ways and means by which it was created. This makes it difficult to trace the associated money flow.
“Developing countries, including Nigeria, collect significantly lower levels of Tax, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), than wealthier states. This is partly because the income and wealth being created, is taken out of the country illegally, without being taxed,” she said.
However, she reaffirmed the engagement of a leading international Asset Tracing and Investigation Agency (Kroll), by the Government to track illicit flows and assets of some Nigerians.
Calling for more responsibility on the part of the destination countries of illicit financial flows, she urged that beneficial ownership registers should be established to allow authorities track money in financial investigations involving suspect accounts/assets held by corporate vehicles.
She also called for the elimination of safe havens that provide incentives for transfer of stolen Assets and illicit financial flows abroad, and also the development of a supportive, efficient and speedy process for returning Assets to originating countries.