Money laundering: Unmask artificial entities’ owners, ICPC tells UN, global community

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), has called on the UN and global community to unmask the owners of artificial legal entities to combat Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

The ICPC Chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said the call was necessary for the world rise up against llegality and financial crimes including money laundering and hidden ill-gotten wealth.

Owasanoye made the call as a panelist at the Ninth Session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP9) to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) at the International Conference Centre in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Mrs Azuka Ogugua, Spokesperson for the Commission in a statement in Abuja on Friday said that the event was organised by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

The CoSP9 is being attended by top government officials and heads of anti-corruption agencies from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Australia, Austria and Ukraine

Others are India, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Mali as well as international bodies, civil society organisations, and the private sector.

The ICPC boss spoke on the draft resolution L9 entitled “Enhancing Access and Use of Beneficial Ownership Information to Facilitate the Identification, Recovery and Return of Proceeds of Crime”.

Owasanoye affirmed that artificial legal entities were being used for illegality and financial crimes including illicit financial flows.

He said, “We have held so many meetings and conferences on beneficial ownership. This is the time for action.

“We need to act now and lift the veil on these artificial legal entities that are being used to perpetuate crimes against the developing countries.

“Lifting the veil on these owners of artificial legal entities will assist in asset tracing and recovery of hidden and stolen funds. The developing countries are being deprived of funds required for development.

“There is no need for the continuous debate on artificial legal entities and beneficial ownership. We need to reduce these meetings and debates and take action now.

“Action is what is required which is the lifting of the veil on these owners. We need to know those behind these artificial entities,” he said.

He canvassed for information sharing and collaboration among intelligence agencies to assist in their operations, adding that absence of transparency and information made it difficult to know those behind crimes.

In a related development,  Owasanoye called for global cooperation and information sharing in addressing corruption if Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved.

He stated this as a panelist at a side event organised by the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) during the Ninth Session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP9) to the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

“Corruption undermines efforts at realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if not combatted. It escalates poverty as well as increases inequality.

“Therefore, networking and information sharing have become necessary to combat corruption, and invariably address poverty and inequality gap,” Owasanoye stated. (NAN)