African Union Asked President Jonathan, Other African Leaders To Publicly Declare Their Assets because 68% Of Illicit Funds Out Of Africa Comes From Nigeria

February 3, 2015 5:13 pm

The -AU, has asked and other
African leaders to openly declare their assets and subject their wealth
to public scrutiny. Worried by the high rate at which resource-rich African countries lose
huge revenues through corruption, illegal transfers of profits and money
laundering abroad, the African Union, AU, has asked President Goodluck
Jonathan and other African leaders to openly declare their assets and
subject their wealth to public scrutiny.
The decision arises from the high rate corruption, illegal transfers of profits and money laundering abroad.
A report on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, compiled by an AU panel
led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, said Africa loses an
estimated $60billion (about N10.08trillion) annually through such
transfers. The report was presented Sunday at a summit in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia.
The report has stirred massive concerns in Nigerian, which is said to account for over $40.9billion (about N6.87trillion), or 68 per cent of the total figure.

Cumulatively, also topped the list of ten African countries with
highest incidence of illicit financial transfers between 1970 and 2008,
recording about $217.7billion (about N36.57trillion), or 30.5% of the
total in the continent.
The issue of accountability and probity by top government officials has
always been a source of serious concern in Nigeria, particularly with
President Goodluck Jonathan repeatedly refusing to publicly declare
their assets.
When the issue surfaced during his third Presidential media chat in
2014, Mr. Jonathan criticised those calling for the declaration, and
said leaders should be allowed to determine whether or not the decision
to make their assets public agreed with their personal principles.
The president emphasised his disapproval by infamously declaring that he
did not give “a damn” about publicly declaring his assets.
“The issue of public asset declaration is a matter of personal
principle. That is the way I see it, and I don’t give a damn about it,
even if you criticise me from heaven,”
the president said.
However, concerned by the findings in the report about the role of
senior government officials, politicians and state executives in
facilitating corruption and laundering of scarce public funds in the
continent, the African Union reminded all African presidents that they
must submit their wealth to public scrutiny in line with global
standards.
“Global standards in anti-corruption and anti–money laundering
require financial institutions to subject accounts held by certain
persons to greater scrutiny and monitoring, including senior government
officials, leaders of political parties, executives at state-owned
enterprises and others with access to a large amounts of state assets
and the power to direct them (often called politically exposed persons,
or PEPs),” the AU said in its report.

“African Governments can greatly assist financial institutions in
this task by publishing lists of PEPs, as well as any asset declarations
filed by PEPs and information about whether the country’s laws prohibit
or restrict the ability of their PEPs to hold financial accounts
abroad,” the AU added.


In addition, the AU said the continent’s governments could demand
foreign financial institutions to provide details of accounts held by
their listed PEPs, preferably as part of the new system of automatic
exchange of financial information being created under the Organisation
of Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD.
The AU also proposed the integration of illegal financial transfers as a
specific component of its Convention on Preventing and Combating
Corruption, adding that its member states should allow the public access
to national and subnational budget information, as well as processes
and procedures for budget development and auditing in an open and
transparent manner.
To eliminate the opportunity for illicit financial flows from national and local government treasuries, it noted: 
“Non-transparent government procurement and supply chains could provide
opportunities for corruption-related IFFs. African Governments,
therefore, should adopt best practices in open contracting to reduce
IFFs through government procurement processes.

The panel in its recommendations asked the Bank for International
Settlements to publish the data in its possession on international
banking assets by country of origin and destination in a matrix format,
along the lines of data published by the International Monetary Fund,
IMF, for bilateral trade data, foreign direct investment and portfolio
investment.
All countries, the report, said should require beneficial ownership
information to be provided when companies are being incorporated, for
that information to be updated on a regular basis, and for that
information to be of public record.
Beneficial ownership declarations should also be required for all
government contracts with third parties. False declarations should
result in robust financial penalties.
The Panel was set up after illegal transfers were identified in 2011 as
one of the threats to most resource rich countries in Africa to meet
their millennium development goals, MDGs, the AU at its 4th Joint
African Union Commission/United Nations Economic Commission for Africa,
AUC/ECA, Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and
Economic Development constituted the Mbeki Panel to review the
underlying issues stalling Africa’s accelerated and sustained
development objective.
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