Illicit Financial flows: CSOs want assent to act to curb $15bn loss

Illicit Financial flows: CSOs want assent to act to curb $15bn loss

Tuesday, July 2, 2019 9:02 am

President Muhammadu Buhari

A coalition of 11 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have urged President Muhammadu Buhari to assent to the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to curb 15.7 billion dollars annual loss illicit financial flows.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CSOs include Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) Zero Corruption Coalition, CITAD, Centre LSD, Open Alliance Budget, Centre For Democracy and Development among others.

Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, Convener of the CSOs at a news conference on Monday in Abuja, said that the bill, which was passed by the 8th National Assembly, was now before the president.

Rafsanjani said that the 15.7 billion dollars annual loss was revealed by the Global Financial Integrity Report.

“If signed into law by president Buhari, it will lead to the establishment of the electronic web-based open beneficial ownership register in Nigeria.

“The ultimate goal is the establishment of comprehensive database of the real owners behind the management of private companies operating within Nigeria’s jurisdiction.

“ If CAMA bill is not signed by president Buhari this week, a decade of work will be lost and irreparable diplomatic, economic and reputational damage would be inflicted on Nigeria.’’

Rafsanjani said that Buhari made commitment to strengthen anti-corruption reforms and had joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in May 2016, during the Anti-corruption Summit in London, in a bid to deepen institutional and policy reforms.

According to him, one of those commitments is that Nigeria will establish a public central register of companies to know who owns what in Nigeria.

He said that three years after the bold commitment and two years of implementation of OGP, there was still no beneficial ownership register and a legal law to that effect.

He said that the beneficial ownership register would address issues of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) aimed at promoting policies that insulate global financial systems from acts of money laundering.

Rafsanjani said it would also curb financing of terrorism, while also profiting all Nigerians because stolen public wealth would be exposed.

He said that the damning implications of not signing the law included Nigeria risking suspension from the Global Extractive Industry Initiative (EITI) among other sanctions.

He added that Nigeria’s failure to enact the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) had jeopardised assets recovery efforts as hundreds of U.S. dollars were waiting to be returned to Nigeria by the international community.

“Let us be crystal clear, concealing of beneficial owners cost lives of our fellow countrymen as terrorists use international financial systems to sustain their operations.

“Without transparent ownership of local and international companies operating in Nigeria, we will not be able to stop the bleeding from illicit financial outflows.’’

Rafsanjani said as long as wrong incentives and dysfunctional supervision dominated Nigeria’s national financial systems, there would be consequences such as terrorism financing, trans-national organised crime, tax evasion and illegal enrichment of politically exposed persons.

He said that CAMA and beneficial ownership register were one of the indispensable mechanisms that had a potential to make a real difference in the anti-corruption war.

Join The Conversation

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.