BY KAZIE UKO
Nigerian politicians and some other politically exposed persons (PEPs) are said to own over 800 properties worth $400 million, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).
An associate fellow, Chatham House, Matthew Page, made the revelation while delivering a paper titled, ‘Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) in Real Estate and Education Sector: Implications for Investigators’, at a two-day Capacity Building for Investigators on Investigating IFFs, organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Chatham House, also known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is an independent policy institute with headquarter in London. Its mission is to provide authoritative commentary on world events and offer solutions to global challenges.
Disclosing that 35 state governors have acquired a total of 69 properties, Page noted that five presidency staff members were controlling 13 properties, while 16 lawmakers are in possession of 45 properties, all in Dubai.
According to the findings, 15 ministers have 25 properties; 158 suspected politicians’ proxies are in control of 226 properties; 14 security sector leaders 71; 50 PEP-linked business persons 91; 13 Known Nigerian law enforcement agency suspects 216; 16 heads of department and agency 25; 11 NNPC officials 19 while a judge has one.
The Guardian reports that Page, who blamed lack of transparency, huge financial flows and inadequate international safeguard for the development further disclosed that Nigerian politicians are spending over $30 million annually on UK education, which he said was beyond their annual earnings.
He urged investigators to compare these payments to their known assets and incomes, examine third party payments, request forex data, review media for PEP schooling and probe MDAs that provides scholarships.
Earlier in his welcome remarks, ICPC chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, stated that 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,” Owasanoye said.
“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. One of the takeaways from here is the kind of question an investigator needs to ask in tracking IFFs and money laundering.”