African finance leaders fly to New York, vow to stop illicit financial flows

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It was the same old vows repeated once again in New York on Thursday, using the same old statistics that Africa loses about $80 billion annually in illicit financial flows.

This is money stolen by Africans or huge taxes not paid by international corporations. It is money hidden away from the public eye and anti-corruption  agencies.

The gathering in New York is another conference at the United Nations with another complicated title “Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT)”.

Why it matters: It’s a gathering of top financial officials who flew in business class from all over the world to discuss how to stop looting of resources or avoidance of taxes by major players.

The global organizationss behind the conference are the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank Group.

Among African finance leaders represented there is the Nigerian minister of finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

Mrs. Adeosun recently vowed that money meant for infrastructure in Nigeria would not be stolen to fund the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, although many believe it was just sound bites for the international community away from reality.

In her address at the conference, she said the illicit financial flows “are driven by the desire to hide illicit wealth, hide the proceeds away from the public eye and law enforcement agencies and also conceal the ways and means by which illicit wealth was created. This makes it difficult to trace the associated money flow”.

 “Developing countries, including Nigeria, collect significantly lower levels of tax, as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), than wealthier States. This is partly because the income and wealth being created, is taken out of the country illegally, without being taxed.”

But the Nigerian government is not folding its arms, she said. The government is working hard to stop it, and has engaged a leading international Asset Tracing and Investigation Agency (Kroll), to trace and track illicit flows and assets.

In addition, she said Nigeria had signed the Multilateral Competent Authority on Common Reporting Standards, which allows for exchange of financial account information.

The country, according to her, is expected to effect the first exchange by 2019 as soon as the domestic legal framework was completed.

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Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba
Based in Washington, District of Columbia, United States of America, Simon leads a brilliant team of reporters, freelance journalists, analysts, researchers and contributors from around the world to run TODAY NEWS AFRICA as editor-in-chief. Simon Ateba's journalistic experience spans over 10 years and covers many beats, including business and investment, information technology, politics, diplomacy, human rights, science reporting and much more. Write him: simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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