Nigeria biggest loser of Africa’s $50b yearly illicit money abroad

Nigeria is the biggest loser of the $50 billion dollars illicit financial flows out of Africa annually, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, has said.

Adeosun regretted that the amount of money Africa lost through illicit financial flows was more than the aid coming into the continent.

She expressed regrets that destination countries do not question the source of such funds.

“And yet when we turn up and say this money was stolen, then they give you an entire questionnaire.

“We’ve battling with the Swiss on Abacha. Abacha loot sat in the Swiss Bank account – 320 million dollars – for 22 years. We’ve been battling through the courts and we still have more recent cases.

Adeosun spoke on the issue of taxation and revenue leakages at a tax conference organised by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development at the UN Headquarters in New York.

The Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Adeosun was on a panel that discussed ‘Revenue Leakages: Illicit Financial Flows’.

She said Nigeria had one of the lowest tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio in the world at just six per cent.

The minister explained that when the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came on board, it met an empty treasury, adding the situation was compounded by the collapse of the oil price.

Finance minister Adeosun in New York

She regretted that Nigeria also suffered from tax avoidance and evasion, saying Nigeria’s tax laws are poor and weak.

Adeosun said the Federal Government has constituted a committee to review , enter into international treaties and also embarked on updating of tax laws.

She said the government also constituted a committee to review and update the tax laws in the country to make them efficient.

The minister said the nine months of amnesty given to tax defaulters through the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) to regularise their tax information would lapsed in March 2018.

She said the Federal Government had commenced the sharing of information on Nigerians who owned property and bank accounts overseas.

According to her, some foreign countries, including the UK, have commenced with Nigeria, the Automatic Exchange of Tax Information.

She, however, lamented frustrations the government was encountering in retrieving illicit funds stashed abroad.

The minister also held a private meeting with the Head of OECD Global Forum on Exchange of Information, Ms Monica Bhatia, on the sideline of the Platform for Collaboration on Tax Conference.

Alongside the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Mr Tunde Fowler, the meeting focused on Nigeria’s efforts for developing international networks and collaboration with other countries to secure tax payer information. (NAN)

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