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How Nigerian politicians launder funds through property ownership, by Chatham House

Matthew Page, an associate fellow of Chatham House, London, United Kingdom, has alerted that education and real estate sectors provide opportunities Nigerian politicians to launder money.

Speaking at a virtual forum held to build capacity of investigators on investigating Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs), he said investigators should focus on real estate and education sectors, when tracking illicit financial flows and money laundering.

Chatham House, is an international affair think tank, based in London.

The event, with participants from various law enforcement agencies was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Page stressed that focusing on the two sectors – education and real estate – had become necessary as they provide opportunities for Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) in Nigeria to launder money and indulge in IFF.

He said, “Most of the property held by Nigerian politicians in London and Dubai are held by proxies, family and shell companies. Over 800 property worth over $400 million have been linked to Nigerian PEPs.” Earlier, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye, the ICPC Chairman, said the capacity building programme would help investigators to track illicit financial flows, money laundering and other areas the government was losing revenue and recover such funds.

“The loss of revenue is a major challenge to developing countries, particularly Nigeria. The meeting is therefore designed to build the capacity of our investigators to enable them trace the areas in which the government is losing money.

“One of the takeaways from here is the kind of question an investigator needs to ask in tracking IFFs and money laundering,” Owasanoye explained.

He added that investigators would also need to “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,” he said.

He stressed the need to widen the revenue base, improve tax collection, combat tax evasion and illicit financial flows, as well as asset recovery to improve the country’s finances.

Others who presented paers at the event apart from Page, are two other resource persons, Melvin Ayogu, a professor at Emory University, and Matthew Gbonjubola of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

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