By Harrison Arubu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday in Austria said it recovered loots totalling N738.9 billion or $2.9 billion between May, 2015 and Oct. 20, 2017.
Its Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, stated this at the ongoing 7th Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption holding in Vienna.
Spokesman of the commission, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, gave account of Magu’s engagement in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday.
In a presentation titled: “International Cooperation in Relation to Tecnical Assistance: The Nigerian Experience”, Magu said the sum was exclusive of smaller currencies in Durham, CRA and British Pound.
He stated that the commission had made a lot of recoveries locally using the mechanism of the non-conviction based forfeiture provided under Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
“Within this year alone, the commission recovered stolen assets running into several millions of US Dollars and billions in naira.
“These include the sum of $43 million recovered from Deziani Allison-Madueke, Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum and N2 billion spread in seven accounts within three Nigerian banks laundered from the Federal Capital Territory Police Command Salary Accounts”, he explained.
Magu, who was said to be a panelist at the Implementation Review Group attended by over 100 delegates, detailed the Nigerian efforts in asset recovery.
He said the country had also made progress in specific cases related to Abacha loot, Malabu Oil, Diezani and associates, and the arms procurement scandal.
These efforts, he said, cut across Switzerland, USA, UK, UAE, Jersey Island and Panama.
In his recommendations, the EFCC boss sought improved coordination and cooperation among state parties in asset recovery.
He said this could be done through the consideration and adoption of measures that would remove traditional barriers such as bank secrecy in line with Article 46(8) and dual Criminality Article 46(9) as well as simplify legal technicalities in the recovery and repatriation of stolen funds.
He further sought measures to reduce cost of recovery of assets for developing countries and ensure speedy return of all stolen assets to victim states in line with the current resolution sponsored by Nigeria.
He also called for sanction and prosecution of any financial institution that violates AML/CFT measures and the maintenance of a public register on beneficial ownership.
Meanwhile, Nigeria has received global commendation for its doggedness in tracing and recovery of its solen assets, according to the commission’s spokesman.
Uwujaren said the commendation came at a meeting between Magu and Dr Nassar Abaalkhail, the Head of International Collaboration, National Anti-Corruption Commission, Saudi Arabia.
The meeting, which held on the sidelines of the conference, followed Magu’s presentation, Uwujaren said.
He quoted Abaalkhail as saying that Nigeria’s efforts at loot recovery were remarkable.
“From what I have heard, Nigeria’s effort at asset tracing is remarkable. Nigeria is indeed a role model for countries, including developed countries.
“We have so much to learn from Nigeria”, he said.
Uwujaren said the Iranian National Focal Point for the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, Dr Mohsen Mardal, also commended the Nigerian presentation.
Similarly, the Commissioner, Sierra Leone Anti-Corruption Agency, Ady Macauley, said the EFCC was not only “formidable, but a pride to the African States”.
“My men were in Nigeria a fortnight ago to understudy your operations, I must confess, we have a lot to learn in investigation, prosecution and asset recovery”.