Nigeria,developing countries losing $1tr annually to illicit financial flows –NEITI

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Worried by nation’s $18billion annual estimated loss to criminal financial transactions, the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, (NEITI) yesterday, warned that Nigeria and other developing countries may be losing over $1trillion yearly to illegal financial flows due to secret ownership of companies around the world.

NEITI Executive Secretary, Dr. Orji Ogbonnaya Orji, who spoke at a stakeholders’ forum on Beneficial Ownership, (BO) implementation in Nigeria, in Abuja Thursday, said companies ownership disclosure has become very crucial because of the serious dangers posed by secret ownership of companies pose to individual countries and the global business community.

Orji noted that criminal activities like “tax evasion and terrorism financing which are associated and facilitated by secret ownership of companies often increase poverty menace in developing countries and threaten the national security of powerful nations.

The NEITI boss cited a recent report by former South Africa president, Thabo Mbeki, which estimated that African countries alone lose lose $50 billion annually due to illicit financial flows, as an indication of the huge financial hemorrhage Nigeria and other African are witnessing yearly.

He said of this amount, “Nigeria accounts for a lion share of these losses, with extractive industry contributing over 93 percent of total illicit financial flows”.

Speaking on NEITI’s Beneficial Ownership register launched in December, 2019, Orji said it currently holds 181 beneficial owners in 49 oil and gas companies and 205 beneficial owners in 76 solid minerals companies.

For his party, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, Auwal Rafsanjani, restated the need to have BO register publicly available, as it would help check about $18 billion annual illicit financial flows from Nigeria.

Rafsanjani noted that civil society groups were not against the government and would continue to support government agencies that take seriously the fight against corruption.

Also speaking at the occasion, the Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC) Alhaji Garba Abubakar, said under Nigeria’s new Companies law, information on stakeholders with reasonable shareholding in a company will be made public.

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