By Angela Atabo
#TrackNigeria: The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has urged the National Assembly to fast tract the passage of Proceeds of Crime Bill to address high rate of money laundering in the country.
CISLAC Executive Director, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani, said this at the launch of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Tracker and 2nd AML Stakeholders’ Conference in Abuja.
Rafsanjani was represented by Mr Adeshina Oke, CISLAC Legal Adviser at the event.
According to him, the event highlights the fact that money laundering is a cancer that dries out resources from rich a continent stricken by poverty and deprivation.
He said Nigeria has became a synonym for ‘fantastic levels of corruption’ and monumental graft due to lack of stringent laws to address and tackle the menace.
“Money Laundering (ML) and Illicit Financial Flow (IFF) negatively impacts many developing economies; report indicates that Nigeria lost about 8,3 billion dollars to IFF between 2006 and 2015.
“ML is often associated with terrorism financing, smuggling, trafficking, illegal drugs and corruption among others.
“This affects the image of Nigeria and fuels economic inequality in the country.
“It is therefore recommended that the proceeds of crime bill be signed into law to address the challenge and there is also need to strengthen the whistle blowers’ policy with litigation to reap its benefit,’’ he said.
Rafsanjani said around 1 trillion dollars of illicit financial flows left developing countries through companies with hidden ownership according to Financial Transparency Coalition.
He said due to loopholes, most African assets, legally and illegally obtained, ended up in tax heavens, anonymous shell companies in exotic places or in countries with sophisticated financial and banking systems.
He said the twisted irony that these illegal assets gained because of weak or non-existent of rule of law flee to places with good legal protection.
He said the combined wealth of Nigeria’s five richest men is worth 29.9 billion dollars and could end extreme poverty in the country within a year.
Rafsanjani said in 2018, reports indicate that 87 million Nigerians out of 200 million strong population lived on a little more than 1 dollar a day.
According to him, that is the first time ever for such absolute highest number of people living in extreme poverty and calls for a strong political will to curb it.
The Programme Coordinator, Anti-money laundering of Transparency International, Mr Jessica Ebrard, said the tracker is a tool which is used to assess the performance of different countries as regards to the fight against money laundering.
He said it would give the people, the opportunity to tell them what they think about the government and whether they are doing well or not. (NAN)