- Illicit Financial Flows: FG Lost $157.5b in 9 Years
President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria lost an estimated $157.5 billion to illicit financial flows between 2003 and 2012.
The president made the statement on Wednesday in New York during the 74th United Nations General Assembly under the theme, “Promotion of International Cooperation to Combat Illicit Financial Flows and Strengthen Good Practices on Assets Recovery and Return to Foster Sustainable Development.”
President Buhari explained that loss of assets of that size, resulted in dearth of resources “to fund public services or to alleviate poverty,” in Nigeria.
“This is why, as Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption,” Buhari stated.
Speaking on corruption, the President, though a statement issued by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, said corruption impedes socio-economic development in Africa.
Therefore, “that is why our government has made it a war we intend to win. We will give all it takes to ensure there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people.”
On asset recovery, President Buhari said, “In the last five years, our government has made significant progress to curb corruption, saying “We have recovered millions of dollars stolen from our country.”
He, however, noted that “there are still a lot of other funds that are stuck in foreign bank accounts due to international laws, different jurisdictions and justice systems that make it difficult for repatriation.”
Defining Illicit Financial Flows as “illegal movement of funds from one country to another,” President Buhari lamented that, “These flows deplete Africa’s internally generated revenues, foreign exchange earnings, reduce tax revenues, drain natural resources, facilitate corruption and stunt private sector development.”
The President listed tax avoidance as another form of illicit financial flow, he quoted the Tax Justice Network and the International Monetary Fund to have estimated over US$200 billion per year as “being lost by developing countries when multinational enterprises do not pay taxes in the countries where they made the profit.”
“This amount is significantly higher than the annual development aid received by these countries which are estimated to be about US$143 billion,” he added.
The President Buhari thanked the organisers of the meeting designed to finding “pragmatic ways to promote international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and strengthen good practices on asset recovery and return, as an arm of sustainable development policies in Africa,” President Buhari also lauded their “shared commitment to root out corruption from our continent.”
“I am motivated by the belief that, if we join hands, we can bequeath to our children an Africa that is not defined by corruption,” the president added.