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FG recovers $1b, links bulk of graft cases to fictitious firms

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As much as $1 billion has been recovered from corrupt public and private individuals, the Federal Government disclosed yesterday.

Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, who made the disclosure yesterday, in Abuja, declared that over 70 per cent of the fraud cases were perpetrated through anonymous companies.

During the media presentation of Nigeria’s Road to Beneficial Ownership Transparency of the 2021 Open Government Partnership (OGP) Week, the ex-Ekiti governor said the sum was recovered via technology.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Nasir Sani Gwarzo, the minister observed that when the register of companies is completed, it would assist government in decision-making, especially award of contracts, permits and licences.

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He said:” It will help decision-makers to quickly determine who benefits from the operations and profits of the company to avoid conflict of interest or manipulation. The journey to establish a public register of beneficial owners commenced in 2016 at the London Summit on Anti-Corruption where President Muhammadu Buhari joined the Open Government Partnership (OGP).

“At the time of this declaration in 2016, there was no legal framework to commence the implementation of the beneficial ownership disclosure in Nigeria. This necessitated the amendment of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, which the President signed in August 2020, paving way for the implementation of disclosure principles

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“The Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 has provisions dealing with disclosure of persons with significant control (PSC) who have at least five per cent of voting rights and who are ultimate beneficial owners of such registered entities to disclose such interest.”

In his welcome address, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, said the Global Support Unit of the Open Government Partnership through the Multi-Donor Trust Fund awarded a grant of $400,000 to Nigeria.

“This grant is managed by the World Bank and we are at the final stages of documentation for its release,” he clarified. He explained that the theme of this year’s event “focuses on how we renew or build again governments, institutions and societies that are transparent, accountable, participatory and inclusive.”

In his keynote address, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, pointed out that with Nigeria as a leader in the Open Government Partnership, “it is clear that the rest of the world is looking with keen interest at the process we employ in the development of this register and this presents us with the opportunity to share lessons from the process thus far with other countries.”

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