Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Osinbajo: Foreign countries are frustrating our efforts to recover looted funds




Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said tracing, freezing and retrieving stolen assets was frustrating and difficult for most African countries.


He said it had been difficult “to get back stolen assets from the international financial system such as banks that ought not to have received those funds in the first place if even the most routine questions were asked.”

Osinbajo spoke in Paris, France, at the anti-corruption and integrity forum of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Osinbajo disclosed that Nigeria just signed a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty on collaboration of financial crimes with numerous countries within and outside the West Africa.

His words: “Secretary-General, We must work collaboratively to ensure transparency in financial transfers, and outlaw secrecy jurisdictions.

“There must be more rigorous enforcement of rules promoting transparency in the international banking and financial systems, especially more stringent KYC rules on customer identity, source of wealth, and even country of origin.

“Countries hosting global financial centers, and other usually targeted destinations of illicit flows must be held more accountable to enforce mechanisms which ensure transparency of ownership, control, beneficial ownerships, trusts and other legal contrivances that may be used to camouflage financial or other assets.

“Open contracting and information systems, are also crucial. Responsible government authorities ought to have information about which companies won what contracts, and what they have paid as taxes to governments in host and home countries.

“This is especially important for the extractive industry. Nigeria is committed to these standards having joined the Open Government Partnership in 2016.

“Tracing, freezing and Return of stolen assets has proved in many cases to be exceptionally difficult for most African countries.

“We in Nigeria have seen just how difficult it is to get back stolen assets from the international financial system, such as banks that ought not have received those funds in the first place if even the most routine questions were asked.

“A robust global framework on repatriation of stolen assets which ensures quick restitution to victim countries is long overdue.

“Your Excellencies, there is consensus that corruption and illicit financial flows out of Africa, inexorably delay the attainment of development goals, worsen practically all human development indices and trap the majority of her people especially the most vulnerable in a cycle of misery.

“Only a united global action has the power to reverse this trend. We respectfully urge that this power be exercised more vigorously and without further delay”.

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