President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday called on professional bodies to sanction those he described as transactional middlemen to curb illicit financial flows.
He named lawyers, bankers and brokers among those he said should be sanctioned to end the menace.
According to the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, Buhari said this in his statement on “Illicit Financial Flows and Corruption: The Challenge of Global Governance”, which he delivered at the first edition of the Paris Peace Forum on the sidelines of the Centenary of Armistice Day.
He called for stringent sanctions against perpetrators of illicit financial flows, including a crackdown on safe havens.
Buhari said Nigeria had strengthened its laws and institutions to fight corruption, fast-track recovery of stolen assets and punish offenders, urging more commitment from governments and international institutions.
He said, “We must crack down on safe havens for corrupt assets. I also advocate sanctions by professional bodies against transactional middlemen (lawyers, bankers, brokers, public officials, etc.) who facilitate illicit financial flows.
“I would like to reiterate that the government of Nigeria remains open and is ever willing to continue to identify and share experiences and strategies to give life to the ideas that will lead to winning the fight against corruption.”
According to the President, illicit financial flows pose a risk to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals as many countries grapple with the challenge of gathering resources to improve their Human Development Index, while a few privileged individuals continue to exploit the weaknesses in the financial systems.
He said, “Our experience in Nigeria is that financial crimes, such as corruption and fraudulent activities, generate enormous unlawful profits which often prove so lucrative that the threat of a jail term is not sufficient to deter perpetrators.
“A more powerful deterrent is to ensure that profits and assets generated from illicit financial flows and corruption are recovered and returned to countries of origin.
“This is not to underestimate the value of strong institutions. It only indicates that asset recovery represents significant deterrence compared to the traditional focus on obtaining conviction by the law enforcement agencies of the countries of origin.”
Buhari urged world leaders and global institutions to remain resolute on the Global Declaration Against Corruption made in London in 2016, which encapsulates the collective commitment to the principles of Open Government Partnership, especially the National Action Plans to actualize beneficial ownership transparency and enhance the capacity of Financial Intelligence Units.
He said the Independent Reporting Mechanisms and support for the activities of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes should be reinforced.
“As we take stock of the strengths and weaknesses of domestic, regional and international mechanisms against illicit financial flows, I seize this opportunity to recall the Global Declaration Against Corruption made in London in 2016 and our commitment thereto,” he added.