By Soni Daniel
The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, has advocated collective and collaborative approach by authorities around the world in dealing with the challenges of financial crimes which, he noted, is a global scourge as no nation is spared its virulence.
Bawa’s views are contained in a keynote address which he presented today at the 38th Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, themed, “Economic Crime-Who pays and who should pay?”, organized by the Centre for International Documentation on Organized and Economic Crime (CIDOEC), Jesus College, University of Cambridge,, United Kingdom.
According to him, economic crimes which are largely illegal acts committed for private gain, “affect the vital structures of global economies, causing significant damage to the Global Financial System and depriving developing nations of the needed resources for sustainable development”.
He noted that developed countries are not immune from the scourge, which has “magnified with the proliferation of Cyber-crimes which threatens the stability of Global Financial Institutions.”
Bawa pointed out that new typologies of economic crimes such as the growth of cryptocurrencies, “portray a far greater danger to the world economy, ” as “criminals now elect to transact or receive illegal monies (such as ransom money) for cyber-attacks in Cryptocurrencies with Bitcoin and Ethereum as the most commonly used medium of these exchanges.”
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He commended the choice of theme which he said offers a platform to interrogate the challenges of economic crimes. “As the victims of crime continue to suffer globally from the effects of financial crimes, either directly or indirectly as part of a social system, the determination of who pays or who should pay becomes a critical measure of the criminal justice system in place,” he said.
He underlined the imperatives of an impartial judiciary in ensuring that “the perpetrators of acts and not the victims pay for their crimes.”
While highlighting some of the transparency and accountability achievements of the Nigerian Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari including enactment and amendment of relevant laws to enhance public accountability and reforms such as Treasury Single Account and the Whistle Blower Policy among others; Bawa pointed out that the EFCC, as the rallying point in the fight against economic crimes in Nigeria, has recorded important milestones in investigations, prosecutions and assets recovery.
In his words, “Since its establishment in 2003, the Commission has recorded no less than 3,500 convictions and recovered assets of significant value including properties in Nigeria, the UK, USA, and the UAE. All these have measurably contributed to the national efforts against economic crimes in Nigeria”.
The EFCC boss concluded by challenging participants to come up with practical solutions to curb the international threat of economic crimes.
The Chairman of the Symposium, Mr. Saul Froomkin, thanked the EFCC boss for his insightful presentation, and the support received from Nigeria in organizing the event.
Participants at the Symposium were drawn from law enforcement and security agencies, accountability institutions and select stakeholders from across the World.