To shore up revenue for the government, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, has forced 2,000 defaulting firms into Nigeria’s tax net. Bolaji Owasanoye, a professor of Law, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN and chairman of ICPC, revealed this last week at the end of a capacity building for ICPC investigators on investigating Illicit Financial Flows, IFFs, held at the corporate headquarters of the Commission.
He said the names of the 2,000 firms who were uncovered during investigations by the Commission have been forwarded to the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, for profiling.
“Some of these entities are not registered and do not pay tax while others are registered but still do not pay tax. The ICPC has been able to recover significant amount in taxes for the government,” he said.
Owasanoye said the capacity-building programme would help investigators to track illicit financial flows, money-laundering, and other areas the government is losing revenue, and recover such funds.
“The loss of revenue is a major challenge to developing countries, particularly Nigeria. The meeting is therefore designed to build the capacity of our investigators to enable them to trace the areas in which the government is losing money, look for the likely places people hide money, stop the illicit financial flows, and recover the funds. We are already working with the FIRS and getting a lot of tax evaders and defaulters into the nation’s tax net.”
He stressed the need to widen the revenue base, improve tax collection, combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows, as well as asset recovery to improve the country’s finances.
NNSimilarlyy, Adeyemi Dipeolu, chairman of Inter-Agency Committee on Stopping IFFs from Nigeria, said that the committee was working tirelessly to curb the menace from the country.
“We know the challenge and negative impact of IFFs in Nigeria and Africa. The Federal Government established the committee towards promoting financial transparency and accountability. And in line with the recommendations of the findings of a high-level Africa Union Panel on Illicit Financial Flows led by the former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, include coordinating and tracking progress in stemming illicit financial flows from Nigeria.
“The Committee is establishing cooperation amongst relevant agencies in order to substantially reduce and eventually eliminate illicit financial flows from Nigeria, make recommendations to the Federal Government on required improvements in legislation, rules and processes for the purposes of tackling illicit financial flows from Nigeria amongst others.”
He urged African countries to build the capacity of their investigators in tracking illicit financial flows in order to curb annual loss of revenue.
Matthew Page, an associate fellow of Chatham House, in his paper, “IFFs through the Real Estate and Education Sectors: Implications for Investigators”, urged the investigators of the ICPC to pay attention to real estate and education sectors’ link to illicit financial flows.
“Most of the properties held by Nigerian politicians in London and Dubai are held by proxies, family and shell companies. Over 800 properties worth over $400 million have been linked to Nigerian PEPs,” he alleged.
Owasanoye also explained last week that all monies recovered by the Commission are paid into the coffers of the federal government. He told the Senate Committee on Finance investigating the activities of revenue generating agencies of the government, that “ICPC has no retention powers over funds or assets recovered from corrupt people.”
Rather, the Commission has a designated account for the recovery of proceeds of crime called ‘ICPC Recovery Account’ into which all recovered funds are paid for onward payment into the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federal Government once there were no encumbrances.
“ICPC was not contemplated as a revenue-generating agency. In the course of our work, we do recover funds. However, ICPC does not spend recovered assets. We do not use part of it for our work.”
He further explained to the committee, “When we investigate, we also look at the tax components and bring defaulters into the tax net which goes straight to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.”