President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that he has enlisted the support of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), world security agencies and friendly nations to locate, recover and assist in repatriating stolen assets.
He made the revelation on Wednesday in New York as he called on Africans in the Diaspora to come up with suggestions on how to curtail the menace of corruption on the continent.
Buhari was addressing participants at the High Level Media Launch on “Illicit Financial Flows and the Fight against Corruption: Curbing the Existence of Safe Havens, the Role of Africans in the Fight against Corruption,” organised by the NEPAD/APRM Nigeria on the sideline of the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The President, in a statement by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, also enjoined them to support measures against “Safe Havens” for illicit financial outflows from Africa.
He told the audience that he had “enlisted the support of multilateral institutions like the World Bank, IMF, Security Agencies, and friendly nations to locate and recover and help repatriate stolen assets.”
Describing corruption as a “cancer” which required global efforts to contain, President Buhari recalled that the negative impact of corruption on the continent informed the “resolve of African Heads of State and Government to remain committed to the fight against corruption,” and the declaration of 2018, as the African year of combating corruption with the overriding theme: Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.
Expressing appreciation to his fellow African leaders for the honour bestowed on him as the African Union Anti–Corruption Champion to lead the continental War Against Corruption in 2018 and beyond, the President noted that the change agenda of his administration “has overhauled, revitalized as well as institutionalized the machinery for an out and out fight against corruption and its agents, with a particular focus on illicit financial flows.”
While acknowledging that the social and economic costs of corruption and illicit financial flows are massive, and have continued to stunt the development of Africa, he cited a 2015 study by an African Union Panel led by Thabo Mbeki which estimated US$50 Billion illicit financial flows out of the continent every year.
He said, “According to the report, about US$2.5billion of the US$50billion of Illicit Financial Flows was in respect of commercial activities. It is obvious that the continent still battles with grand corruption at the highest level, with Safe Havens, opaque systems in many recipient countries and the outright willingness of some advanced countries to harbour stolen funds from Africa.”
Listing some of the negative impact of illicit financial flows out of the continent to include draining of foreign exchange reserves, reduction of tax/revenue collection, poor investment inflows and escalation of poverty, the President noted that these “nefarious practices are being perpetrated by some of the 60 international tax havens and secret jurisdictions with thousands of disguised corporations, shell companies, anonymous trust accounts, fake charitable foundations, money laundering and transfer pricing mechanisms.”
He said that efforts were now being made by African leaders to checkmate these ills and ensure greater transparency and accountability in government business.
He said, “One of the measures necessary if we are to make any headway, is to bring in laws, regulations and policies that encourage transparent financial transactions, as well as implementing measures that would mitigate the incentives that facilitate illegal outflows from the continent.”