By Nkiruka Nnorom
African nations, including Nigeria, have been charged to identify the loopholes and implementation challenges with their regulatory frameworks that can orchestrate Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and resolve those challenges.
Olabisi Akinkugbe, Viscount Bennett Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, made the call while delivering a keynote address at The Global South Dialogue on Economic Crime (GSDEC)’s inaugural conference themed “Financial Regulation: A Global South Perspective”, hosted by Aston University, Birmingham.
Every year, an estimated US$88.6 billion is lost by African countries to IFFs, while Nigeria loses $15 to $18 billion annually to IFFs, according to Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI).
Akinkugbe noted that Covid-19 has heightened the vulnerability and exposure of the Global South to illicit financial flows, and recommended that combating financial crime requires a contextual understanding, hence, “it must be studied against a deeply contested history of colonialism and post colonialism”.
“The global south is consistently milked off revenues of significant levels of resources that would have otherwise been critical to the socio-economic development of the rights of its people. IFFs primarily perpetrated by transnational corporations often in consent with national elites represent an arena where economic resources in terms of tax revenue due to developing African countries are denied based on corporate legal structures that enhance the circumvention of national goals.
“The denial of revenues through corporate structures and tax even for example with trade and investment dimensions has direct and indirect implications for the sustainable development and aspirations of African states and indeed the global south.’
Xolisile Khanyile, Director, Financial Intelligence Centre, South Africa, suggested that Africa’s financial intelligence units can combat economic and financial crime by ensuring that Africa has joint priorities aligned to their national risk assessments. Corroborating the argument, Dr Constance Gikonyo of University of Nairobi argued that the extent to which African countries can comply with global standards, including having robust national risks assessments, is dependent on their capacity which is largely limited by their socio-economic circumstances.
Gikonyo, therefore, advocated for improved capacity building.
Dr Anselm Abotsi, University of Education, Winneba, contended that the capacity of the government to formulate and implement sound policies and regulations is paramount in the fight against illicit financial flows.