Nigerian government and civil society organisations convene anti-corruption summit to tackle illicit financial flows

 

  • Africa loses US$50 billion every year to corruption
  • In Nigeria $400 billion has been lost to ‘oil thieves’ since 1960
  • More than one trillion dollars siphoned from developing countries each year
  • Summit provides global partners, Nigerian civil society and government with a historic window of opportunity to tackle corruption

 

ABUJA –  Thursday 5th May 2016

ONE in partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and the Nigerian Ministry of Justice is convening the Nigeria Anti-Corruption Summit on 5 May to engage African leadership on effective outcomes for the 2016 International Anti-Corruption Summit to be held in London next week.

As the recent Panama Papers show, flaws in the global financial system enable corrupt individuals to hide details of their financial affairs under the noses of governments and law enforcement agencies. These are vast amounts of money, and even if a portion was taxed this could help finance developing countries’ fight against extreme poverty.

“Nigeria has to defeat corruption and build a new culture of accountability to be able to lift her people out of poverty. Addressing illicit financial flows and developing a solid international framework for accountability is fundamental” says Udo Jude Ilo, Nigeria Country Officer and Head of Office, Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

“Developing countries are deprived of much needed revenues for health, education and development by these illicit flows,” says Mwambu Wanendeya, Africa Director of the ONE Campaign. “While poor governance and corruption must be rooted out, we should not forget the role played by secret companies, banks and law firms all too often based in G20 countries and their related offshore centres. The world’s poorest people are paying the price for the siphoning of money out of African countries.”

Corrupt individuals know they can conceal their identities through anonymous shell companies which then funnel the cash into other companies, property and assets.

“The true scale of the damage caused by these types of corruption is illustrated by the broad range of organisations contributing to this event and the continent-wide effort to turn the tide against corruption. Every organisation focuses on particular issues, but are all working towards the same goal: ending corruption.” says Oluseun Onigbinde, lead partner of BudgIT.

OSIWA and ONE are working with the Nigerian Government on this summit in Abuja to:

  •     Take stock of the strengths and weakness of current efforts to address corruption, including domestic and regional mechanisms
  •      Secure government commitments to address corruption
  •      Formulate calls to the international community to assist in addressing international corruption through asset recovery, thwarting the facilitators of money laundering and cracking down on safe havens for corrupt assets.
  •      Provide a forum for civil society/government to interface on strengthening the anti-corruption efforts both locally and internationally

ONE has laid out key areas for the Anti-Corruption Summit to take action and set a global standard of Fair Play:

  • Public register of beneficial ownership, so we know who owns trusts and companies.
  • Tighter rules to make it harder to hide corrupt assets.
  • More due diligence in business transactions so ignorance is no excuse if people you do business with turn out to be corrupt.
  • Transparency for companies buying oil, minerals or gas.
  • Public disclosure of companies’ tax payments.
  • Greater transparency in government procurement.
  • Government budgets should be available for anyone to view.  

ONE also supports the platforms and positions of Nigerian partners such as Enough is Enough and BudgIT and the full implementation of Nigerian government commitments in the fight against corruption especially around the the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) and the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI)

ENDS

Note for editors:

Data from the Panama Papers has helped reveal the extent of money held in cities such as London and Paris that is associated with corrupt officials:

  • James Ibori, the former Governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State, is currently serving a 13-year conviction in the UK for ten counts of money laundering and conspiracy to defraud. He owned six properties in London with the help of secret shell companies. His properties included a flat opposite Abbey Road recording studios and a six-bedroom house with indoor pool in Hampstead worth £2.2m in 2001. At today’s prices, this luxury house could vaccinate 230,000 children in Nigeria against seven killer diseases.
  • Dan Etete, the former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum, has been implicated in facilitating the transfer of payment of $1.1b to a shell company he anonymously owned in the tainted Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245 deal, with the funds ending up in a Natwest bank account in London. He was convicted of using €15m believed to have been fraudulently obtained to buy properties in 1999 and 2000 in France, including a chateau in northwestern France for ₣7.5m (€1.1m), a Paris apartment for ₣12 million (€1.8m) and a luxury villa in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly for ₣28m (€4.3m). The value of these French properties is equivalent to the cost of antiretrovirals to treat HIV/AIDS for over 370,000 people in Nigeria.

The $400 billion lost to ‘oil thieves’ in Nigeria between 1960 and 2012 means every year over $7 billion is lost and annually this could have:

  • vaccinated 29.7 million children under the age of five
  • provided 168 million Nigerians with a bed net to protect against malaria
  • provided 3.2 million HIV-positive Nigerians with life-saving antiretroviral drugs
  • hired more than 494,000 additional primary school teachers, resulting in an 86% increase in Nigeria’s teacher workforce.

To calculate what $400 billion of oil revenues lost to theft in Nigeria could have been used to purchase, we first calculated the annual average amount lost to theft, dividing $400 billion by 52, the number of years between 1960 and 2012, the year the statistic was cited. The resultant $7.7 billion annual loss was then used to calculate the health and education improvements that could have been funded each year, using 2013 US dollars:

  • Providing all 3.2 million HIV-positive Nigerians with antiretrovirals (ARVs) for a year (at $315 per person per year) = $1.008 billion.
  • Fully immunising every single child in the country aged under five (29.7 million children at $22 per child) = $653.4 million.
  • Providing insecticide-treated bed nets for all 168 million Nigerians (at $10 per net) = $1.68 billion.
  • If the remaining funds ($7.7 billion – $1.008 billion – $653.4 million – $1.68 billion = $4.35 billion) were invested in education, they could pay for the salaries of an additional 494,421 primary school teachers ($4.35 billion ÷ $8,800/per teacher), an 86% increase in the country’s current primary teacher workforce (574,078 teachers).

(Source: https://s3.amazonaws.com/one.org/pdfs/Trillion_Dollar_Scandal_report_EN.pdf)

About ONE:

ONE is a campaigning and advocacy organisation of over seven million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa. Not politically partisan, we raise public awareness and press political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency in poverty-fighting programmes. Read more at www.one.org.

About OSIWA:

OSIWA plays a dual role in the region as both an advocate and grant-maker by enabling itself to be agenda-setters both within and alongside other organizations working on the ground. The Foundation works through a unique combination of grant making, advocacy, partnership building and technical assistance. OSIWA has carved its niche through a two-pronged strategic focus: strengthening both democratic institutions and structures and civic participation in decision-making. OSIWA is active in ten countries in West Africa (Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Senegal) with offices based in five of them. Read more at http://www.osiwa.org/

About BudgIT:

Founded in 2011, BudgIT is a Nigerian civic organization that applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change. A pioneer in the field of social advocacy melded with technology, BudgIT uses an array of tech tools to simplify the budget and matters of public spending for citizens, with the primary aim of raising standard of transparency and accountability in government. Read more at http://yourbudgit.com/

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