Former United States intelligence community’s top expert on Nigeria, Mathew Page, has said that the U.S. and the United Kingdom are the biggest recipients of funds looted from Nigeria.
Page stated this on Friday in Abuja at a roundtable organised by the Centre for Democracy and Development, a civil society organisation.
His submissions were contained in a paper titled, “From Maitama to Mayfair: How International Financial and Property Markets Fuel Corruption in Nigeria.’’
He said current banking, property and corporate laws in the U.S. and U.K. were designed to facilitate illicit financial flows from Nigeria.
“Nigeria’s kleptocrats deftly use both Nigerian banks and the international financial system, especially anonymous shell corporations and offshore tax havens, to launder stolen public funds and stash them overseas, often in the form of high-end real estate in London, Dubai, New York, and California.
“Despite possessing robust discretionary powers, the US and UK rarely deny visas to corrupt officials or report cases of suspected corruption or unexplained wealth back to law enforcement agencies back home.
“The UK is one of a small number of global financial centres that play a key role in processing substantial levels of corrupt capital,’’ he said.
He said an estimated £57bn was laundered within and through the UK in 2013 alone, representing 3.6 percent of that year’s national real GDP.
He added, “If Nigerian kleptocrats are unable to visit their properties and spend their illgotten gains in luxury boutiques in London, Dubai, and New York, the incentives for off-shoring them, would likely diminish.
“There is no doubt that the readiness with which the UK, US, and other parts of the international financial system absorb illicit financial outflows from Nigeria compounds the damage corruption inflicts here.”