The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, has canvassed the payment of interests on stolen funds by benefiting foreign nations as part of measures to redress the menace of Illicit Financial Flows.
The ICPC boss also disclosed that the Federal Government was currently reviewing legacy transactions in oil and gas, tax investments and the use of waivers in Nigeria in order to curb IFFs.
Owasanoye made this known at the International Conference on IFFs and Asset Recovery, held at the ICPC Headquarters, Abuja, on Wednesday.
He said illegal movements of funds from African countries abroad has made the continent to be the biggest victim of IFFs.
This was contained in a statement on Thursday by the ICPC spokesperson, Mrs Azuka Ogugua.
He urged foreign beneficiaries of IFFs to deduct loans to African countries from the illegal funds in their possessions, and returned the outstanding amount with interests to the continent.
He said, “Africa is the biggest victim of IFFs. If you evaluate what we have lost as a continent against what African counties owe, Africa should be a net creditor to the world. They can decide to deduct the loans given to African countries from all the money taken from the continent, there will still be a substantial amount to return to Africa.
“The money should also be returned with interests as they have been in use over there. The money should be placed in an Escrow account, and a regional development bank that knows how to manage money should be in charge of such funds.”
The ICPC chairman advocated a workable framework that will reduce the timeframe for the repatriation of identified stolen funds and assets, decrying the huge loss suffered by the continent due to long and tedious processes which usually takes several years to complete.
Besides, Owasanoye said there were ongoing efforts by the Federal Government to block illicit outflows of funds through the review of international transactions that enable IFFs.
He added, “We are reviewing the legacy transaction in oil and gas, tax investments and the use of waivers in Nigeria to close loopholes that facilitate IFFs.
“For instance, a lot of damage can be done through confidential clauses in loans, oil and gas contracts, and others. The review will prevent dodgy politicians from taking money out.”
A member of the Thabo Mbeki Panel on Illicit Financial Flows out of Africa, Ms. Souad Osman, said that efforts to stop IFFs were more critical now than ever due to the huge level of poverty and underdevelopment in Africa.