The Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Ibrahim Musa, has said Nigeria lost over $18billion to phony companies and contractors over the years.
Musa who spoke at a press briefing on anti-corruption potential of the beneficial ownership register in Ikeja on Wednesday said those business owners and contractors operating under a non existing name to siphon the country’s money and launder it to other countries using such companies should be sanctioned to serve as deterrent to others.
“It will tremendously help to stop the bleeding in the Nigeria’s Extractive industry in terms of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), on which Nigeria loses $18 billion annually,” he said.
The Bliss News reports that the event supported by Oxfam, was on “advocacy and sensitisation dialogue on advancing remedial activities in the extractive sector, contract transparency and beneficial ownership as a strategy to curb illicit financial flows in Nigeria.”
Advocating a “name and shame” approach to the fight against corruption and lack of transparency, Musa stated, quoting Global Report, that Nigeria lost $18 billion annually to beneficial ownership.
“CISLAC demands stiffer penalty on beneficial ownership. Name, Shame Beneficial Owners of Phony Firms in Nigeria,” he said.
Adding that “Proper tracking of the beneficial owners of companies will tremendously help the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
“Modality for false declaration should include black listing of every company, which gives false information about contracts and beneficial ownsership,” he said.
While speaking during the press briefing, Registrar-General, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Garba Abubakar, said that misinformation or false disclosure of beneficial ownership has now been criminalised in the country.
Abubakar said contractors and business owners in Nigeria who are found guilty of misinformation or false disclosure of beneficial ownership will be jailed for two years.
He said; “Our legal framework confirms that anyone can own shares. If you are owing shares on behalf of someone, you must declare the names of the person. If you hide the beneficial owners it may mean there is a cover up.
“This usually shows through false disclosure and or misinformation about beneficial owners and when this is established, our law recomends 2 years in jail term.
“At CAC, our register was opened on the 3rd of January, 2021 and the names of beneficial owners of all companies that registered with us since that period have been made public on our website,” Abubakar, said while fielding questions that were directly posed to him by newsmen.
“Our register is available publicly. For existing companies it is mandatory disclosure at the period of filing returns.”