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Need to tackle illicit financial flows in Africa – IoDCCG

Tackling illicit financial flows (IFF) is a matter of survival for Africa’s development, according to Shuaibu Idris, chairman, IoD Centre For Corporate Governance (IoDCCG).

Africa not only loses about 5 percent of continental GDP annually to illicit capital flights but the proliferation of illicit financial flows enables terrorist activity and insecurity from the Lake Chad region which includes Nigeria spanning the Sahel region.

The losses to economic growth, trade opportunities, and social development are therefore unquantifiable, he said. This constitutes a drain on Africa’s foreign exchange reserves, reduces efforts to enhance domestic resource mobilization, contract investment inflows and contribute to low social development indicators including poverty and inequality.

Idris spoke at the IoDCCG Stakeholder Roundtable on ‘A Public/Private Sector Dialogue on Strengthening Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) and curbing illicit financial flows in Nigeria and West Africa.’ An initiative of the Center for International Private Enterprise, CIPE, USA and IoD Centre for Corporate Governance.

According to him, it is a collective responsibility and a priority for the private sector, civil society and government to address systemic challenges and gaps undermining the efforts to curb IFF and ML/TF including lack of transparency, weak accountability mechanisms, under capacity, resource mismatch, and others that can be identified through dialogue and strategic engagements on this nature.

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IoDCCG is a collaborative project of the Institute of Directors Nigeria (IoD), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The Centre is committed to promoting and improving good Corporate Governance standards in Nigeria through advocacy, advisory services, research, and high-quality training for board members and executives in public and private sector organisations. IoDCCG is also an Affiliate Member of the African Corporate Governance Network (ACGN) and is licensed by The Center for International Private Enterprise, (CIPE) Washington D.C, USA on Anti-Corruption and Ethics Compliance.

In his remarks, Nerus Ekezie – CEO IoDCCG, said, AML/CTF engagements have usually been short of participation of core actors in the financial institutions (FIs) and real estate (RE) sector.

“The Roundtable draws the attention of these stakeholders. DNFBPs have a low level of understanding their AML/CTF obligations, according to the Mutual Evaluation Report for Nigeria (GIABA). Therefore, this is the need to focus attention on FIs and REs. At the end of the workshop, it is expected that there will be improved coordination between the private sector and regulators and stronger compliance,” he said, adding that FIs and RE industries are the most vulnerable to the ML/TF risks.

Mariano Federici, senior managing director, K2Integity, said in his paper presentation that there is no effective way of combating corruption without private-public partnership (PPP).

Federici said PPPs allow for coordination, information sharing, assessment of risks, and sharing operational intelligence to enable investigations by the law enforcement. Resulting from a lack of partnership, a key problem is the level of understanding of the role risks exposure of the private sector and public sector.