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‘How regulations will tackle illicit financial flows in Africa’

By Benjamin Alade
12 October 2021   |   3:51 am
To check Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Nigeria and other African countries, experts have said that government needs to intensify efforts on regulatory frameworks to curb such criminal acts.

REUTERS/Gary Cameron

To check Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Nigeria and other African countries, experts have said that government needs to intensify efforts on regulatory frameworks to curb such criminal acts.

The experts, who gathered at the inaugural conference of Global South Dialogue on Economic Crime (GSDEC), recommended that combating financial crimes required a contextual understanding; hence, it must be studied against ‘a deeply contested history of colonialism and post colonialism’.

With the theme, ‘Financial Regulation: A global south perspective’, hosted by Aston University, Birmingham, the conference examined whether the current global financial regulatory framework is best suited to combat financial and economic crime in the Global South effectively.

Moreover, scholars at the event argued that curbing the varying forms of economic crime necessitates having contextualised legislative changes, implementing strong risk assessment frameworks and having appropriate strategies.

Delivering his keynote speech, Viscount Bennett Professor of Law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, Olabisi Akinkugbe, emphasised the need for all African nations to identify the loopholes and implementation challenges with their regulatory frameworks, which can orchestrate IFFs.

Professor Akinkugbe said COVID-19 has heightened the vulnerability and exposure of the global south to IFFs.

He noted that the global south is consistently milked off revenues of significant levels of resources that would have otherwise been critical to this socio-economic development of the rights of its people.

According to him, IFFs primarily perpetrated by transnational corporations often in consent with national elite represent an arena where economic resources in terms of tax revenue due to developing African countries are denied based on corporate legal structures that enhance the circumvention of national goals.

He said the denial of revenues through corporate structures and taxes even for example with trade and investment dimensions has direct and indirect implications for the sustainable development and aspirations of African states and indeed the global south.

For instance, Luckystar Miyandazi argued that ‘whilst there is still no internationally adopted consensus regarding the concept and definition of IFFs, there is consensus on the importance of the reduction of IFFs, as a priority area for achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’

Hence, she stated that, for Africa, ‘defining IFFs is important as it influences the way we talk about them, their legal, normative or developmental qualification, the data available to better understand this phenomenon – their types, volume, channels, origins and destinations and, ultimately, the impact of efforts to fight them’.

Dr Joy Malala examined the theme within the context of bribery in Kenya’s urban transportation industry. Her presentation established a strong correlation between corruption and income inequality, which varies societal perspectives on corruption – making it more acceptable. Hence, she argued for imminent action to change the perspectives to ensure continued economic development.

In her remarks, Co-founder, Global South Dialogue on Economic Crime Network, Dr Lovina Otudor, reiterated that ‘much still needs to be done and hoped that this can be achieved through dialogue and cooperation as the challenge remains that of inclusiveness, applicability and a level playing field which is not just the existence of a robust regulatory framework.’