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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.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Crude Oil

Oil and Gas Companies in Nigeria

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Oil - Investors King

Nigeria is an oil reach nation with several oil and gas companies operating in Africa’s largest economy.  However, only ten oil and gas companies are listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

Before we discuss in detail each of the listed oil and gas companies in Nigeria. A short background on Africa’s largest economy will help throw more light on the significance of the oil and gas companies or the entire oil sector to the Nigerian economy.

Nigeria is a petrol-dollar economy, which means Africa’s most populous nation, sells crude oil and use its proceed to service the economy. In fact, the Nigerian Naira is backed by crude oil like Canadian Dollar and other commodity-dependent economies.

But because the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pegged the Naira against its global counterparts, the local currency does not reflect succinctly the fluctuation in global oil prices like other crude oil-dependent currencies.

Since global oil prices rebounded with the gradual reopening of economies, the oil and gas companies in Nigeria have also rebounded from the 2020 record low of $15 per barrel. The oil and gas sector has gained 62.76 percent from the year to date, according to the NGX Oil and Gas Index.

The index gauge price movements in 10 listed oil and gas companies in Nigeria.  However, there are several oil and gas companies in Nigeria not listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited.

Oil and Gas Companies Listed on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX)

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Crude Oil

Oil Prices Extend Gains on Friday After Saudis Dismiss Supply Concerns

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Oil

Oil prices extended gains on Friday after Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Energy Minister dismissed calls for more crude oil supply on Thursday.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $84.92 per barrel at around 8:31 am Nigerian time. The U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil also responded positively to the comment, rising to $81.56 per barrel on Friday.

Prince Abdulaziz had stated on Thursday that OPEC plus efforts were enough to protect the oil market from wild price volatility seen in coal and natural gas markets.

“What we see in the oil market today is an incremental (price) increase of 29%, vis-à-vis 500% increases in (natural) gas prices, 300% increases in coal prices, 200% increases in NGLs (natural gas liquids) ….”

He further stated that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies led by Russia, have done a “remarkable” job acting as “so-called regulator of the oil market,” he said.

“Gas markets, coal markets, other sources of energy need a regulator. This situation is telling us that people need to copy and paste what OPEC+ has done and what it has achieved.”

Prince Abdulaziz explained that OPEC plus will add 400,000 barrels per day in November and do the same in December and subsequent months. The increase will be gradual he said.

“We want to make sure that we reduce those excess capacities that we have developed as a result of COVID,” he said, adding that OPEC+ wanted to do it “in a gradual, phased-in approach”.

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Energy

Lack of Investment in Clean Energy Compromising Fight Against Climate Change and Poverty

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Renewable Energy - Investors King

New research highlights a chronic lack of finance that will leave billions of people in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia without electricity or clean cooking by 2030; Urgent action to accelerate investment in clean energy for developing countries is needed from global leaders assembling at COP26 to ensure a just energy transition.

This year’s Energizing Finance research series – developed by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) in partnership with Climate Policy Initiative (CPI) and Dalberg Advisors – shows the world is falling perilously short of the investment required to achieve energy access for all by 2030 for the seventh consecutive year.

In fact, tracked finance for electricity in the 20 countries that make up 80 percent of the world’s population without electricity – the high-impact countries – declined by 27 percent in 2019, the year before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The economic strain caused by Covid-19 is expected to have caused even further reductions in energy access investment in 2020 and 2021.

Energizing Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2021, one of two reports released under the series, finds committed finance for residential electricity access fell to USD 12.9 billion in 2019 (from USD 16.1 billion in 2018) in the 20 countries. This is less than one-third of the USD 41 billion estimated annual investment needed globally to attain universal electricity access from 2019 to 2030.

Meanwhile, there is an abysmal amount of finance for clean cooking. Despite polluting cooking fuels causing millions of premature deaths each year and being the second largest contributor to climate change after carbon dioxide, only USD 133.5 million in finance for clean cooking solutions was tracked in 2019. This is nowhere near the estimated USD 4.5 billion in annual investment required to achieve universal access to clean cooking (accounting only for clean cookstove costs).

These findings have been released just ahead of COP26 in Glasgow, where global leaders will focus on how to spark meaningful progress on fighting climate change. As part of this, they will need to consider how to reduce global emissions from the energy sector while also increasing energy access in developing countries to support their economic development.

“We are at a critical moment in the energy-climate conversation,” said Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. “What is clear is that the path to net zero can only happen with a just and equitable energy transition that provides access to clean and affordable energy to the 759 million people who have no electricity access and 2.6 billion people who lack access to clean cooking solutions. This requires resources to mitigate climate change and create new opportunities to drive economic development and enable people everywhere to thrive. Energizing Finance provides an evidence base of current energy finance commitments and the finance countries require to meet SDG7 energy targets.”

In 2018, 50 percent of total electricity finance flowed to grid-connected fossil fuels in the high-impact countries compared to 25 percent in 2019. While this is a positive trend for the climate, tracked investment in off-grid and mini-grid technology also declined and represented only 0.9 percent of finance tracked to electricity.

Dr. Barbara Buchner, Global Managing Director at CPI, who partnered with SEforALL on Energizing Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2021, said: “Achieving both the Paris Agreement and universal energy access requires far greater investment in grid-connected renewables and off-grid and mini-grid solutions than what has been tracked in Energizing Finance. These solutions are essential to helping high-impact countries develop their economies without a reliance on fossil fuels.”

To better illuminate the challenges high-impact countries face, the second publication in the series, Energizing Finance: Taking the Pulse 2021, offers a detailed look at the estimated volume and type of finance needed by enterprises and customers to achieve universal energy access for both electricity and clean cooking by 2030 in Mozambique, Ghana and Vietnam. Importantly, it illustrates the energy affordability challenges people face in these countries and the need for financial support for consumers, such as subsidies.

The report finds that providing access to clean fuels and technologies, i.e. modern energy cooking solutions, in Ghana, Mozambique and Vietnam will cost a total of USD 37-48 billion by 2030; 70 percent of which will be for fuels (e.g., LPG, ethanol and electricity). A more achievable scenario would be for all three countries to deliver universal access to improved cookstoves at a total cost of USD 1.05 billion by 2030.

“Ghana, Mozambique and Vietnam each have unique challenges to achieving universal access to electricity and clean cooking,” said Aly-Khan Jamal, Partner at Dalberg Advisors, who partnered with SEforALL on Energizing Finance: Taking the Pulse 2021. “This research digs deep into these national contexts to identify solutions that can make Sustainable Development Goal 7 a reality.”

Providing results-based financing for energy project developers and exploring policies that facilitate demand-side subsidy support and reduce taxes on solar home systems are among several policy recommendations presented for Ghana, Mozambique and Vietnam.

Energizing Finance also advocates for increased innovation in financial instruments to reach the scale of finance needed for universal clean cooking access; for integration of electricity access, cooking access and climate change strategies; and for national governments, bilateral donors, philanthropies, and DFIs to all increase their efforts to mobilize commercial capital to Sub-Saharan African countries.

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