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………African Union Anti-Corruption Day: Africa Needs All Her Assets Back.
By: Ade Adeleke
Today marks the 3rd African Anti-Corruption Day with the theme “Towards a Common African Position on Asset Recovery.”
The African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption was adopted in Maputo, Mozambique on 11 July 2003 and came into force in 2006. Till date, the Convention has been ratified by 40 member states of the African Union.
Since adoption of the Convention, African states have made significant efforts in the fight against corruption including the establishment of national laws and the creation of anti-corruption agencies. Despite these efforts, corruption has remained pervasive in almost the whole of African countries.
Corruption has led to the increase of Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, of which an estimated 50 billion USD is lost annually. This poses a great challenge as recovery of stolen and illicit assets is a developmental issue impacting the achievement of Agenda 2063 and Sustainable Development Goals.
The negative effect of corruption on the continent is clear for all to see and impacts negatively on the socio-economic capital of Africa.
On May 24, 2019, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the State of the Union (SOTU) Coalition, held a press conference to set the anti-corruption agenda for tackling corruption. Some of the issues CISLAC and SOTU laid on the table were those of Asset Recovery, Beneficial Ownership and transparency in Public Procurement.
Public procurement is one area most vulnerable to corruption in most African countries. In addition to the volume of transactions and the financial interests at stake, corruption risks are exacerbated by the complexity of the process, the close interaction between public officials and businesses, and the multitude of stakeholders.
The direct costs of corruption include loss of public funds through mis-allocation or higher expenses and lower quality of goods, services and works.
Those paying the bribes seek to recover their money by inflating prices, billing for work not performed, failing to meet contract standards, reducing quality of work or using inferior materials. This results in exaggerated costs and a decrease in quality.
We call for all African countries to adopt clear procurement governance frameworks that inculcate prudence and enhanced operational efficiency through accountability and transparency, in the use and application of their financial resources to drive the transformation process
The investigative report, “The Plunder Route to Panama” inspired by the Panama Papers, reveal systematic power structures set up by African leaders and run by favoured friends or family members to steal billions of dollars and store the loot outside of their countries.
While the involvement of Africans in the Panama Papers scandal has been described as ‘jaw dropping,’ the revelations have resulted in very little action being taken. Despite indisputable evidence, many corrupt politicians and businessmen and women seem to be above the law and out of reach of law enforcement.
We reiterate the need for asset declaration for elected officials, senior public servants and judges which should be in the public domain and open to the scrutiny of citizens.
With the growing interest of Beneficial ownership disclosure across the Continent, CISLAC prevails upon the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards to demand an expansion of the frontiers of our collective struggle for transparency and accountability and the promotion of policies and standards that insulate our financial systems from acts of money laundering.
Money-laundering crimes and tax evasion need to be stringently investigated and prosecuted by competent agencies and in line with FATF Standards. Frivolous and fraudulent tax wavers to multi-national and African companies, especially in high net revenue sectors such as oil and gas, communication and construction, needs to be stopped.
CISLAC and SOTU called on all national anti-graft agencies to be proactive by following up on the Suspicious Transactions Reports which banks and financial providers flag as potential money laundering cases.
We urge all anti-corruption stakeholders in the fight against corruption in Africa to reflect on the challenges faced with asset recovery and chart an effective way forward.
On our part, CISLAC and SOTU remains committed to monitoring the various AU treaties that African governments have signed onto to ensure effective implementation for the benefit of Nigerians and we implore all national stakeholders to do same respectively.