Nigeria has lost over $400bn to offshore havens, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, said on Monday.
According to a statement by his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr Umar Gwandu, Malami said the money lost to illicit financial flows was “stolen and expatriated by corrupt leaders and their foreign accomplices including multinational companies.”
The statement added that Malami led the Nigerian delegation to the eighth session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption in the United Arab Emirates taking place from December 16 to 20.
“The quantum of these illicit flows which are majorly proceeds of crime undermines local currencies, constitutes a threat to the economy, and enhances the risk of huge amounts of money flowing into channels such as organised crimes and terrorism,” Malami said.
He noted that “bad eggs among public officials have been compromised by multinational companies and our resources looted and diverted through inflated contracts.”
He regretted that “proceeds of corruption and illicit financial flows constitute a huge chunk of resources needed for sustainable development but are regularly diverted from victim states.”
Malami said the Nigerian government had taken drastic measures to address the problem in order to ensure that Nigerian financial institutions and banks are not used as conduits for these illicit transactions.
He added, “To dissuade the perpetrators of this anomaly including financial institutions who act as enablers, State parties should ensure that illicit financial flows, when tracked, do not remain in the custody of enabling financial institutions, but should be transferred into escrow account, preferably in development banks pending return to countries of origin.”
Malami noted that with the return of democratic governance in 1999, the country had recorded significant progress in the fight against corruption.
“We have enacted legal frameworks and established several dedicated institutions focused on preventing and combatting diverse manifestations of corruption.”b
Malami added that that the Federal Government was actively implementing the Justice Sector Reform Strategy covering issues such as International Cooperation Mechanisms, Mutual Legal Assistance and reform of the Criminal Justice System.