Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mbeki Panel Pledges Support for Buhari’s Efforts at Recovering Looted Nigerian Funds
September 25, 2015 0 80

Moves by President Muhammadu Buhari to recover monies stolen from the nation’s treasury have received the nod of the African Union, AU/United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, UNECA’s High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows, IFFs.

Chairman of the panel and former South African President, Thabo Mbeki gave the backing while answering a question from The Nation at a news conference after the “First Subregional Workshop on Curbing IFFs” in Nairobi, Kenya.

Admitting that he had not closely followed what the Buhari administration was doing, Mbeki noted that the body would support the Federal Government’s plans to recover stolen assets, adding that should the Federal Government’s plan succeed, it will encourage other African governments.

According to him, “I wouldn’t say personally I had followed closely what President Muhammadu Buhari is doing. But certainly with regards to the matter of the recovery of assets took out of the country illegally – whether it is money that is stolen by somebody or whatever happened – the recovery or repatriation of those assets is very much part of the programme to follow up on the findings of our panel on IFFs.

“Certainly, if President Buhari or Nigerian government is attending to that, we would applaud that. We would say it is a very correct step to take to ensure that indeed these outflows, which left the country and the continent illegally, must return.

“It would be very good if Nigeria could succeed in this, because it would encourage the rest of the continent to act with the necessary vigour to find and repatriate such funds. It would be a very good thing indeed.”

The sub-regional conference brought together key decision-makers from the East, South and North African nations to discuss following concerns that IFFs from Africa were huge and increasing from the initial $50 billion annually.

Among the meeting’s new findings was the need for closer monitoring of commercial routes of illicit outflows from the continent.

Another finding was that new and innovative means of generating illicit flows were emerging.

The former South African leader called for stronger stance by governments and financial intelligence institutions in the fight against IFFs.

He said African countries needed closer collaboration and coordination to deal with the problem.

“It’s an African problem, but the solution is global because these monies leave African to other countries,” he stated.

Mbeki, who noted that the burden to deal with the issue remains with the African countries, said: “I am saying, therefore, that the biggest role is with us as actors within the continent to make sure we deal with this and cooperate even on the issues of repatriation of what has been stashed abroad.

“As African nations, we shouldn’t lose leadership on this issue because it is as important as the numerous development challenges that we are trying to address as a continent,” he said.

Mbeki said African nations have been rendered poor through corruption and corporations that were evading paying billion in taxes.

“This happens at the expense of development projects in the region. If these monies were retained in the respective countries, African countries’ would not be facing simple challenges in health care and poverty,” he added.

Mbeki said lack of financial transparency in such dealings, which in many cases were being carried out by government officials, limits the efforts put in place to fight IFFs.

“That is why we are asking political leaders in East Africa, West and Central Africa, North Africa and South Africa regions to be responsible for their nations.”

The IFF panel chair called on governments to establish strong regulations in tax collection and customs.

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