Curbing illicit financial flows key to Africa’s growth

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The chairperson of ICPC, Bolaji Owasonoye, says a collaborative effort is required to stop the flow of corruption and Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) out of Africa.

This, according to him, is key to the survival and growth of the continent.

Mr Owasanoye, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said this on Wednesday at a one-day seminar organised by the Abuja Chapter of the Society of Women Accountants of Nigeria (SWAN).

The event themed, ‘Building Institutional Resilience to Reduce Corruption and Illicit Financial Flows’, was held at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

The highlights of the event were captured in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugwa.

Mr Owasanoye, who was represented by an ICPC board member, Olubukola Balogun, lamented the fact that African nations, particularly Nigeria, were adversely affected by significant losses due to IFFs, a situation he lamented has denied the continent of the resources it so desperately needs for development.

Citing findings from a 2021 International Conference on IFFs, the ICPC boss revealed that the conference estimated the annual loss to IFFs from Africa to be $50 billion and growing at the rate of 20.2 per annum.

Speaking further, Mr Owasanoye noted that “there was a need for the collective action to address Africa’s Illicit Financial Outflows to secure Africa’s survival; sustainable growth and development; and Agenda 2063.”

IFF is about money illegally earned, transferred, or used that crosses borders.

The World Bank says IFFs reduce domestic resources and tax revenue needed to fund poverty-reducing programs and infrastructure in developing countries; accordingly, they are receiving growing attention as a key development challenge.

According to a 2020 study by Brookings, a U.S based nonprofit research organisation, between 1980 and 2018, sub-Saharan Africa exported over $1 trillion of illicit financial flows. The top four emitters of illicit flows, according to the study are South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. The four nations are said to emit over 50 per cent of the 38 years of total illicit financial flows.

The ICPC Chairperson stated that the tragedy of IFFs was that the loss was suffered by developing countries whereas the destination of the funds is the rich industrialized countries of the West and recently Asia and the Middle East.

He noted that Nigeria was grappling with serious challenges in the areas of peace, security, good governance, and sustainable development and that there was a need for quick wins and long-term solutions to save the country.

He identified accounting professionals in both public and private sectors of our governance systems as a core component of the “foot soldiers” of the battle due to their role in the custody and management of public/national resources as well as the potential of being in the best position to prevent and combat corruption and IFFs.

Others speak

Speaking on the role of revenue agencies in engendering citizens’ buy-in in combating corruption and illicit flows, the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Muhammad Nami, underscored the measures the revenue agency was taking at tackling IFFs.

The FIRS boss also lent credence to the fact that corruption and IFFs have starved Nigeria of the much-needed resources required to provide basic amenities, infrastructure and improved living conditions for the citizenry.

He expressed the belief that the SWAN collaboration with ICPC and other regulatory agencies to reduce corruption would lead to improved tax compliance at both the national and sub-national levels.

In his goodwill message, the Chairperson of, the National Salaries, Income and Wages Commission (NSIWC), Ekpo Nta, described accountants as key actors in the financial sector, pointing out that lending their technical expertise to block criminal infractions was required.

Mr Nta, the immediate past ICPC Chair, who was represented by Chukwuma Nwachinemere, explained that the NSIWC was strongly committed to encouraging equitable wages policies, saying that corruption stemmed from greed and covetousness to acquire more than what is earned.


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