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Exposing Nigerian Looters’ Assets in The UK



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  • Exposing Nigerian Looters’ Assets in The UK

Many countries across the world are safe havens for corrupt Nigerian public officials and white-collar crooks. The United Kingdom, arguably the leading culprit, has taken a bold initiative to redeem itself. When the plan is consummated through a pending legislative mechanism, bank accounts, properties and other assets that fail the legitimacy test will be confiscated and exposed. The drive, which will assist Nigeria in its anti-corruption battle, surely is a game-changer. Nations need to work together on mutual legal assistance and extradition in corruption cases to recover looted funds and bring fugitives to justice.

There’s much reason to cheer the initiative. The Executive Secretary of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Bolaji Owasanoye, who hinted of this recently in New York, the United States, said the new offensive will be launched using the UK’s “Unexplained Wealth Order Bill.’’ The Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, confirmed the deal that is expected to come into effect in 2018. “There is going to be much better cooperation from the international community. The British government under the beneficiary ownership register, which was signed with David Cameron before he left, is going to give us the list of everyone (Nigerians) that owns property in the United Kingdom.” The loophole in the UK’s law, which prohibits the seizure of questionable properties unless their owners have first been convicted in their countries of origin, will eventually be closed.

Undoubtedly, the move is a logical corollary to the UK’s resolve to push for a global consensus against the corruption epidemic, for which it hosted a summit last December. The UK Labour Party Shadow Secretary for International Development, Diane Abbott, had last year accused the government of not taking real measures “to close Britain’s constellation of tax havens, which constitute the largest financial secrecy network in the world.” All true, of course. It is estimated that about $60 billion illicit money goes out of Africa annually. After the summit, the UK government emphasised that there would be nowhere for looters to hide; and those involved would be pursued and punished. “By sending a clear message to the corrupt, there will be no impunity; we will restrict their ability to operate in our countries,” read the message.

Though we are not deceived by such syrupy diplomatese, the UK government has clearly shown that some Western countries bear the moral burden of Africa’s underdevelopment. Britain as one of the global capitals of ill-gotten wealth, indeed, gives itself out as the place that harbours much of the $150 billion, which President Muhammadu Buhari said was siphoned from Nigeria in the 10 years to 2015. Besides the cash in secret bank accounts, funds have been heavily invested in the UK’s lucrative mortgage sector. A study by an African Union panel headed by Thabo Mbeki in 2014 affirmed that out of $60 billion of illicit capital flight out of the continent annually, $40 billion came from Nigeria. The claim is further strengthened by Global Financial Integrity, a US-based group, finding that $182 billion was stolen from Nigeria between 2000 and 2009. Indeed, corruption stifled the real sector and smaller businesses and blocked foreign investment outside the oil and gas sector.

Nigeria should do more than just wait for the UK to tidy up its environment to our advantage. The Mutual Legal Assistance agreement entered into by the two nations, a protocol it also shares with Switzerland and, recently, the United Arab Emirates, among others, is a veritable weapon that could be used to get our stolen funds returned and rein in the looters. Switzerland has done more than other countries in Europe on funds recovery with the $722 million of Sani Abacha loot it returned in 2005 and a promise to surrender the balance of $321 million. The sanitisation of its legal environment is no less critical.The country’s erstwhile Ambassador to Nigeria, Hans Rudolf Hodel, once said, “…But now, before you deposit money in any Swiss bank, you have to prove that you have earned that money legally.”

If the UK gets it right with the proposal for wealth within the threshold of £100,000 to be justified, it would have been a watershed in using international efforts to tame the urge to siphon public funds from Nigeria to offshore accounts.

An Investment Property Forum research 2016 put the value of the UK’s commercial property whether occupied or held as an investment at £871 billion, while those held as investment rose to £483 billion. However, reports indicate that Nigerians, who may have been rattled by the UK action, are desperate to sell their questionable properties there to escape the eventual scrutiny and justice. The authorities should forestall this.

Apart from the UK, the US, France, Luxembourg, Panama, Liechtenstein and Island of Jersey are the other safe havens for Nigeria’s corrupt public officials. Some $550 million of the Abacha loot reportedly remains in these countries, while the Federal Government has been negotiating its release.

Strategies in the anti-graft war are changing globally. That is what the UK has demonstrated with the proposed law, which shifts the burden of proof on the accused, rather than the old canon of the accused being presumed innocent until proven guilty. Singapore, once a corruption haven, shunned this Western paradigm in its anti-graft prosecutions, and adopted the “prove your wealth” model. This explains why it is now ranked seventh in the 2016 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, compared to Nigeria’s dismal 136th. Indonesia too is making progress with this system.

But our anti-graft agencies are not exploring existing foreign assistance enough. There are the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977 and the UK Bribery Act 2010 that both prohibit the bribing of international companies and foreign officials and substantially encourage whistle-blowers to expose any fraudulent activity involving offshore companies. Nigeria has to key into this new grid. Ultimately, the anti-corruption battle can only work with a strong political will to fight it, a robust and total anti-graft framework and a society that abhors corruption.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq,, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Slip as Japan’s Rising Inflation Signals Rate Hikes



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Crude oil fell in early trading on Friday as concerns over sustained high interest rates in both Asia and the United States weighed on the outlook.

This trend is attributed to Japan’s increasing inflation, which is prompting expectations of imminent rate hikes by its central bank.

Brent crude edged declined by 11 cents to settle at $85.60 per barrel while the U.S. crude oil declined by 9 cents to $81.20 per barrel.

Recent data revealed that Japan’s core consumer prices rose by 2.5% in May compared to the same month last year. This increase marks a growth from the previous month, suggesting that the Bank of Japan is likely to raise interest rates in the upcoming months to curb inflation.

In the United States, data released on Thursday showed a decrease in the number of new unemployment claims for the week ending June 14, indicating continued strength in the job market.

This persistent robustness in employment raises the likelihood that the U.S. Federal Reserve will maintain higher interest rates for a longer period.

Higher interest rates typically have a dampening effect on economic activity, which can subsequently reduce oil demand.

The prospect of prolonged elevated interest rates in two major economies has therefore put downward pressure on crude oil prices.

Despite the downward trend, oil prices received some support from the latest figures from the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

The data showed a drawdown in U.S. crude inventories by 2.5 million barrels in the week ending June 14, bringing the total to 457.1 million barrels. This exceeded analysts’ expectations, who had predicted a 2.2 million-barrel reduction.

Also, gasoline inventories fell by 2.3 million barrels to 231.2 million barrels, contrary to forecasts that anticipated a 600,000-barrel increase.

“Gasoline finally came to life and posted its first strong report of the summer driving season,” remarked Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York, highlighting the surprising uptick in gasoline demand.

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Crude Oil

Nembe Creek Oil Field Halted After Leak, Impacting 150,000 bpd



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Nigeria’s oil output has taken a significant hit following the shutdown of the Nembe Creek oil field due to a major oil leak.

The Nembe Creek oil field, responsible for producing approximately 150,000 barrels of crude oil per day (bpd), was forced to cease operations on June 17, 2024.

The leak occurred on the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL), a critical pipeline that transports oil from the Nembe Creek oil field to the Bonny Oil Export Terminal.

The operator of the pipeline, Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company, confirmed the leak and the subsequent shutdown in a statement released yesterday.

Aiteo reported that the leak was discovered during routine operations in the Nembe area of Bayelsa State, located in Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta region.

This region is notorious for environmental degradation due to decades of oil spills, which have severely impacted local agriculture and fishing industries.

Following the discovery of the leak, Aiteo activated its Oil Spill and Emergency Response Team and shut down all production from Oil Mining Lease (OML) 29 as a precautionary measure to prevent further environmental damage.

“While we regret the production losses and the potential environmental impact, our current priority is to expedite an efficient spill management process in line with regulatory standards and collaborate with all stakeholders to restore production and mitigate associated risks,” said Victor Okronkwo, Managing Director of Aiteo Eastern E&P.

The exact cause of the leak remains unknown. Aiteo emphasized that the shutdown was a precautionary step to contain the spill and minimize environmental harm.

The company has notified its joint venture partners and relevant regulatory bodies, including the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC) and the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), about the incident.

This development comes as a setback for Nigeria, which holds Africa’s largest natural gas reserves and is a major oil producer.

The country’s oil sector has faced numerous challenges, including aging infrastructure, theft, and environmental issues, which have hindered its ability to maximize production and exports.

The Nembe Creek shutdown also highlights ongoing concerns about the safety and reliability of Nigeria’s oil infrastructure. The NCTL has been a frequent target of oil theft and sabotage, exacerbating the challenges of maintaining a steady oil output.

Energy analysts believe that the latest incident could impact Nigeria’s ability to meet its export commitments and exacerbate the country’s economic challenges.

The Nigerian government, under President Bola Tinubu, has been making efforts to attract investment into the energy sector to boost production and address infrastructure deficits.

“The government will hope this offers confidence not only in the quality of the Nigerian resource base, but also in the government’s pledge to improve ease of doing business,” said Clementine Wallop, director of sub-Saharan Africa at political risk consultancy Horizon Engage.

As Nigeria works to address the immediate spill and restore production, the broader implications for the country’s oil sector and its environmental impact remain to be seen.

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Crude Oil

Brent Crude Nears Seven-Week Highs as Market Eyes US Inventory Report



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Brent oil, the international benchmark for Nigerian crude oil, remained steady on Thursday, hovering just below seven-week highs as the escalating conflict in the Middle East raised concerns over potential supply disruptions.

At the same time, the market eagerly awaits U.S. inventory data for further indications of demand trends.

August Brent crude rose 28 cents, or 0.3%, to $85.35 a barrel while the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil gained 13 cents, or 0.2%, to $81.70 a barrel.

“There was no WTI settlement on Wednesday due to a U.S. public holiday, which kept trading subdued,” noted Ricardo Evangelista, an analyst at ActivTrades.

“However, oil prices are likely to remain supported around current levels due to a growing geopolitical risk premium driven by conflict in the Middle East.”

Israeli forces have intensified their operations in the Gaza Strip, targeting areas in the central region overnight while tanks advanced into Rafah in the south.

The escalating violence has heightened fears of a broader conflict that could impact oil supplies from the region.

“Expectations of an inventory build appear to be overshadowing fears of escalating geopolitical stress for now,” said Priyanka Sachdeva, senior market analyst at Phillip Nova.

Investors are keenly awaiting the release of U.S. inventory data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) later on Thursday, delayed by a day due to the Juneteenth holiday.

An industry report released on Tuesday by the American Petroleum Institute (API) indicated that U.S. crude stocks rose by 2.264 million barrels in the week ending June 14, while gasoline inventories fell, according to market sources.

The summer season typically sees an uptick in oil demand due to increased refinery runs and weather-related risks.

“Ongoing production cuts by the OPEC+ group, combined with seasonal demand, should tighten oil balances and lead to inventory draws during the summer months,” J.P. Morgan commodities analysts wrote.

Refining margins have also improved, with the ICE gasoil futures premium to Brent crude jumping to $20.63 a barrel on Wednesday, a two-month high.

“Firmer fuel refining margins provide a healthy dose of encouragement for those expecting improvements on the demand side,” commented Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM.

In other economic news, the Bank of England’s decision to keep its main interest rate unchanged at a 16-year high of 5.25% ahead of the national election on July 4 has been noted by market observers.

Higher interest rates generally increase the cost of borrowing, which can slow economic activity and dampen oil demand.

As the market braces for the upcoming EIA inventory report, analysts and traders are closely watching for any signals that could influence oil prices in the near term.

The delicate balance between geopolitical tensions and supply-demand fundamentals continues to play a critical role in shaping the oil market landscape.

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