Global strategy imperative to tackle economic crime, says Amaechi

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

Economic crime can better be tackled if countries partner and share strategic information to stop the network of those who commit such crimes, Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said in London yesterday.

He spoke while delivering a keynote speech at the opening of the 34th International Symposium on Economic Crime, at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. The Rt. Hon. Jeremy Wright, the Attorney-General of England and Wales and Advocate General of Northern Ireland, also spoke on the first day of the week-long symposium.

In his address entitled, “Beyond Blame Game: The Imperative of Tackling Economic Crime Together,” Amaechi said economic crime was often committed in an organised manner involving several people, sometimes across countries through multiple jurisdictions. Although such crimes may originate from one country, it often involves the participation of clandestine, criminal networks operating in different countries, playing one role or the other and benefiting from such illicit proceeds.

“At the 7th African Union and Economic Commission for Africa conference that held in Abuja back in 2014, the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki stated that Africa loses between $50 billion to $60 billion annually as a result of Illicit Financial Flows (IFF). These are said to occur through forms of tax avoidance including transfer pricing or mispricing- depending on which side you are- through which multinationals minimize their tax obligations by shifting their profits from high tax to low tax jurisdiction thereby short-changing some of their host countries especially in the developing world and draining them of legitimate revenue, impeding their projects and denying their population access to basic services,” Amaechi noted.

He further explained that because economic crimes are committed through networks, sometimes spread over countries, It is, therefore, a global problem that can only be effectively tackled through global collaboration and partnership.

“For this to happen, the public and private sectors especially the banks, must come into collaboration beyond high-sounding rhetoric and public relations. Institutions from both developed and developing countries must learn to share information and act swiftly to erode the efficacy of these networks to successfully use any jurisdiction either as transit routes or safe havens for proceeds of economic crime.  Strong, effective, regulatory and enforcement capabilities must be encouraged both domestically and internationally through technical cooperation.

Partnerships must be encouraged to provide platforms to share best practices and intelligence and strengthen legislations between jurisdictions,” he remarked.

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