Foreign countries should refund stolen funds with interest, according to the Chair of the ICPC.
Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, has advocated for the payment of interest on stolen funds by benefiting foreign nations as part of measures to address the threat of Illicit Financial Flows. The ICPC chief also revealed that the Federal Government was currently reviewing legacy oil and gas transactions, tax investments, and the use of waivers in Nigeria in order to reduce IFFs.
On Wednesday, Owasanoye stated this at the International Conference on IFFs and Asset Recovery, which was held at the ICPC Headquarters in Abuja. According to him, the illegal movement of funds from African countries abroad has made the continent the most vulnerable to IFFs.
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This was stated by the ICPC’s spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, in a statement on Thursday. He urged foreign IFF beneficiaries to deduct loans to African countries from illegal funds in their possession and return the outstanding amount to the continent with interest. He stated, “Africa is the most vulnerable to IFFs.” When you compare what we have lost as a continent to what African countries owe, Africa should be a net creditor to the rest of the world. They can choose to deduct the loans given to African countries from the total amount taken from the continent, and there will still be a significant amount to return to Africa. “The money should also be returned with interest because it has been used there.” The funds should be placed in an Escrow account, and a regional development bank that understands money management should be in charge of them.”
The ICPC chairman advocated for a workable framework that will reduce the timeframe for the repatriation of identified stolen funds and assets, lamenting the continent’s huge loss as a result of long and tedious processes that typically take several years to complete. Furthermore, Owasanoye stated that the Federal Government is working to stop illicit outflows of funds through a review of international transactions that enable IFFs. “We are reviewing legacy transactions in oil and gas, tax investments, and the use of waivers in Nigeria to close loopholes that facilitate IFFs,” he added. “For example, confidential clauses in loans, oil and gas contracts, and other contracts can cause significant harm. The review will prevent shady politicians from withdrawing funds.” Ms. Souad Osman, a member of the Thabo Mbeki Panel on Illicit Financial Flows out of Africa, stated that efforts to stop IFFs were more important than ever due to Africa’s massive poverty and underdevelopment.
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