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Nigerian leaders stole N3tn in 10 years - Report

By The Citizen
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Global Financial Integrity  a Washington-based research and advocacy organisation, in its newly released report, has said out of the 20 biggest exporters of illicit financial flows for decades, Nigeria occupies the 7th position with $19.66bn (N3.047tn).

It said Nigeria, termed the 7th biggest money laundering country in the world, exported N3tn by leaders who had access to the nation's money between 2000 and 2010.

The report, which was co-authored by GFI's Lead Economist, Dev Kar, and GFI's Economist, Sarah Freitas, is the first by the organisation in incorporating a new, more conservative estimate of illicit financial flows.

It facilitates comparisons with previous estimates from GFI updates and identifies crime, corruption and tax evasion as biggest channels with nearly $6tn stolen from poor countries

According to the report, China is leading the pack with $274bn average ($2.74tn cumulative); followed by Mexico with $47.6bn average ($476bn  cumulative); Malaysia, $28.5bn average ($285bn cumulative); Saudi Arabia, $21.0bn average ($210bn cumulative); Russia, $15.2bn average ($152bn  cumulative); and Philippines, $13.8bn average ($138bn cumulative).

'Astronomical sums of dirty money continue to flow out of the developing world and into offshore tax havens and developed country banks. Regardless of the methodology, it is clear that developing economies are haemorrhaging more and more money at a time when rich and poor nations alike are struggling to spur economic growth.

'This report should be a wake-up call to world leaders that more must be done to address these harmful outflows. The  estimates provided by either methodology are still likely to be extremely conservative as they do not include trade mispricing in services, same-invoice trade mispricing, secret transactions, and dealings conducted in bulk cash. This means that much of the proceeds of drug trafficking, human smuggling, and other criminal activities, which are often settled in cash, are not included in these estimates,' it said.

The report further stated that $858.8bn of illicit outflows lost in 2010, was a significant uptick from 2009, which saw developing countries lose $776.0bn under the new methodology.

'This has very big consequences for developing economies. Poor countries lost nearly a trillion dollars that could have been used to invest in healthcare, education, and infrastructure. It's nearly a trillion dollars that could have been used to pull people out of poverty and save lives,' it said.