The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has unveiled plans to go after multinationals involved in illicit financial flows out of Nigeria.
The Acting Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, disclosed this in an interview with journalists on the sideline of a conference on the use of beneficial ownership information and the recovery of assets in Africa.
The event, which was hosted by the Federal Inland Revenue Service in Abuja, was attended by representatives of over 30 African countries to discuss the issue of illicit financial flows, tax evasion and corruption on the continent.
According to the World Bank and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the continent is estimated to be losing more than $50bn annually to illicit financial flows stemming from bribery, corruption, transfer pricing, tax evasion and money laundering.
This figure represents more than the continent receives in official development assistance everywhere and is increasing at an annual rate of 9.4 per cent, which is twice as fast as the global average gross national income.
Magu described the development as worrisome, adding that a major cause of illicit financial flows was corruption.
He said if the menace of corruption could be addressed, the rate of tax evasion and illicit flow of funds would be reduced.
This, he noted, would free more resources for the government to implement development projects in the face of dwindling revenue.
He said the commission had opened discussions with the FIRS to set up a special unit that would deal with tax fraud, tax evasion and other related offences, particularly in multinational firms.
Magu stated, “We are already discussing that and we are going to upgrade our cooperation with them, and we are going to set up a unit that will be in charge of tax fraud and tax evasion and related offences.
“We want to see that we work on these very seriously and we intend to use that to see how we can bring succour to the economy.
“Very soon, we will set up this unit because we have just discussed with the FIRS chairman; and so, we will sit down and organise a special training so that we can collaborate very well and chase out corruption from this country and send it back to where it is coming from. If there is no corruption, there won’t be illicit financial flows.”
The EFCC boss said the agency would also take its anti-corruption war to the universities.
Magu added, “We are talking with the universities and we are looking at programmes and trying to launch a similar thing like the ‘Women Against Corruption’.
“The student union leaders visited me and this was their complaint, and we have told them we are going to do this to protect their future. So, it is very necessary that the students join us in the fight against corruption.”
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who spoke at the event, said the issue of illicit financial flows had cost the continent huge losses in revenue.
She said while the government had put in place measures to fight corrupt practices, it would require the assistance of other countries to tackle the issue of tax evasion and illicit financial flows.