Speaking at en event in the US organized by the African Union Development Agency and New Partnership for Africa’s Development at the 74th United Nations General Assembly, President Mohammadu Buhari revealed that the country lost 157.5 billion dollars to illicit financial flows in ten years, between 2003 and 2012.
Referencing the Global Financial Integrity Report of 2014, the President said that the money could have been used to fund public services or to alleviate poverty in the country. “This is why, as Africans, we have no choice but to break the back of corruption,” Buhari said.
He further stressed the need to improve the recovery of looted public assets most of which are stashed away in foreign banks and corporations.
He also emphasized the need to fight corruption and ensure that the war is won at all costs, stating that “In the last five years, our government has made significant progress to curb corruption. We have recovered millions of dollars stolen from our country. We will give all it takes to ensure there is no hiding place for purveyors of corrupt practices who are truly enemies of the people. That is why our government has made it a war we intend to win,” .
According to the the president, illicit financial flows affected the economy, reduced tax revenues, drained natural resources, and stunted private sector development.
He also made mention of other funds of the country that are stuck in bank accounts abroad due to international laws, different jurisdictions and justice systems that make it difficult for repatriation.
The President highlighted the issue of tax avoidance as another form of illicit flow. This is a case of some multinational enterprises refusing to pay taxes in developing countries where they make profit. This, according to the Tax Justice and the International Monetary Fund Network is how developing nations lose $200 billion every year. Ironically, the amount is higher than the $143 billion dollars developing nations receive in annual development aids.