Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that countries of the world must unite in fighting the scourge if global anti-corruption efforts are to yield desired results.
He said this on Thursday in Paris, the French capital, at a global anti-corruption forum organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, OECD.
Osinbajo said that financial institutions in developed countries of the world must not aid nor condone financial impropriety.
“We must work collaboratively to ensure transparency in financial transfers, and outlaw secrecy jurisdictions, Osinbajo stated, adding that “there also has to be more rigorous enforcement of regulations on transparency in the international banking and financial systems, “especially more stringent KYC (know Your Customer) rules on customer identity, source of wealth, and even country of origin.”
Osinbajo said that it is also clear that most economies ravaged by corruption have institutions that are too weak to fight corruption and illicit financial flows, hence “international collaboration is the smartest and most effective approach to apprehend and deter perpetrators and ensure restitution of stolen assets.”
The Vice President observed that corruption and Illicit financial flows are perhaps “the gravest challenge to development … especially of developing countries.”
“Besides, we have seen in Nigeria, in recent years, how corruption directly fueled the terrorist insurgency in the North-East, and how in turn that has led to one of gravest humanitarian disasters in the world,” he added.
Osinbajo also acknowledged that OECD has done commendable work in creating a robust international framework for tackling corruption and illicit financial flows through its numerous initiatives.
These include the Global Forum for Transparency and Exchange information for Tax purposes; the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Cooperation in Tax matters; the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, EITI; the Automatic Exchange of Information and the Anti-Bribery Convention.
Osinbajo also pointed out that the efforts are underway for West Africa regional cooperation against corruption.
“Before I left Abuja yesterday, our cabinet ratified a treaty on the ECOWAS Tax Administration Forum, which would open the way for greater cooperation amongst West African States in the exchange of tax information,” he said.
“Internally, we have established a seven man Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
“We also established an Anti-Corruption and Criminal Justice Reform fund with the support of three international Development Partners; Ford Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and the Open Society West Africa.
“Our Whistleblower initiative launched barely eight weeks ago has achieved great success and praise both locally and internationally.”
The Vice President also noted that Nigeria had signed several bilateral mutual legal assistance treaties on collaboration on financial crimes and corruption with several countries, the latest being with the United Arab Emirates which occurred this week.
He reasoned, however, that despite the progress made so far in the global anti-corruption campaign, more needs to be done as developing countries are often left out in the crafting of important initiatives.
He also noted that tracking and repatriation of stolen have proved exceptionally difficult for most African countries, adding “Nigeria has seen just how difficult it is to get back stolen assets from the international financial system, such as banks that ought not to have received those funds in the first place if even the most routine questions were asked.”