The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has accused Nigerian leaders and top government officials of aiding the Illicit Financial Flows (IFF) activities in the country.
The EFCC also revealed that corrupt government officials and their private sector collaborators used fronts and ownership structures that do not provide sufficient information about the true identities of the natural persons behind the title to hide illicit money and transferred same to safe havens abroad.
The Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Abduralsheed Bawa, disclosed this during a one-day conference that was organised by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CSLAC) on IFF on Corruption in Arbitration in Abuja
Bawa, who was represented by the Head of Research Unit, Department of Policy Research and Statistics, EFCC, Mr. Abiodun Adebanjo, said: "The IFFs in Nigeria is perpetrated by corrupt leaders and their foreign accomplices and multinational companies.
"Investigations by the EFCC and other international law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), National Crime Agency (NCA) whom we work very closely with at the EFCC revealed that the massive flow of illicit money out of Nigeria is facilitated by the Global Shadow Financial System (GSFS) comprising tax havens, secrecy jurisdiction, disguised corporations, anonymous trust accounts, fake foundations, trade mispricing, multinational asset stripping and money laundering techniques."
He stated that the practice of concealing the real owners of companies manifests in different forms and that in some jurisdictions includes chain of ownership, which "is a situation where many companies, including those registered in tax havens and secret banking jurisdictions, end up owning a particular company.
"The real problem is not just about anonymity but the lack of transparency on the part of the countries where these monies are held to the countries where these monies are stolen from."
He also decried how top government officials use their official positions to encourage IFFs.
"In Nigeria, we see a case in which influential officials use their positions to pilfer government resources and extract maximum rent from the country's mineral resources with minimum or no benefit to the citizens.
"In practical terms, billions of dollars are lost annually in royalties and fees for licenses, which politically connected individuals would appropriate by using fronts and secret ownership arrangements.
"This deprives federal government huge amounts of monies needed for development," Bawa said.
Similarly, the Executive Director of the CSLAC), Mr. Auwal Rafsanjani, disclosed that Nigeria is losing about $18 billion to IFF annually.