Why stolen monies are difficult to repatriate – Osinbajo

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday lamented that the tracing and returning of stolen assets had become difficult for most African countries.

He attributed the phenomenon to lack of the adherence to the rules promoting transparency in international banking and financial systems.

He said corruption directly fuelled the activities of Boko Haram insurgents in the North-East of the country.

Osinbajo reportedly said this in his remarks at the anti-corruption and integrity forum of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris.

The Vice-President called for a robust framework on the reparation of stolen assets in order to ‘ensure quick restitution to victim countries’.

He said, “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 to 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.

“There is a 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.”

According to a copy of the speech made available by the Presidency, the Vice-President said it was no longer in doubt that corruption and illicit financial flows constitute grave challenge to development.

He said corruption fuelled terrorism in the North-East, invariably leading to serious humanitarian disaster.

Osinbajo said, “There is now hardly any credible opposition to the notion that corruption and illicit financial flows constitute, perhaps, the gravest challenge to development. And this is especially true of developing countries.

“Besides, we have seen in Nigeria, in recent years, how corruption directly fuelled the insurgency in the North-East. And how, in turn, that has led to one of gravest humanitarian disasters in the world.

“Also, the adverse implications for education, health care, social services, infrastructure and, indeed, quality of life no longer require making a case.

“Corruption and illicit financial flows are different. But they really must be twinned. This is because for practical purposes, it is an eminently more sensible approach to treat most of the sources of illicit financial flows as corrupt activity within a broader use of the term.”

The Vice-President noted that it is also clear that most economies ravaged by corruption, usually both as a cause and consequence, do have institutions that are too weak to fight corruption and illicit financial flows.

He made a case for international collaboration which he said remained the smartest and most effective approach to apprehend and deter perpetrators, and ensure restitution of stolen assets.

Osinbajo said in West Africa, efforts towards regional cooperation against graft was under way.

He said the draft ECOWAS Common Investment Code of 2013 backed a treaty allowing an exchange of information within the fiscal authorities of the various jurisdictions.

Osinbajo added, “The treaty would also identify tax havens and examining their taxable basis, rates and fiscal administration through the establishment of a regional body in accordance with the ECOWAS Revised Treaty.

“Before I left Abuja yesterday (Wednesday), our cabinet ratified a treaty on the ECOWAS Tax Administration Forum, which would open the way for greater cooperation among West African states in the exchange of tax information.”

PunchNg

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