By Princess Ekwi
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes at the Ninth Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in Sharm El Sheikh Egypt, on 17th December 2021, adopted Nigeria’s resolution titled “Enhancing the use of Beneficial ownership information to facilitate the identification, recovery and return of proceeds of crime.
The resolution co- sponsored by other countries such as the State of Palestine, Pakistan, Kenya, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Burkina Faso, Dominican Republic, United States of America, Ecuador, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Honduras, Angola, Algeria, Madagasca, and Sri Lanka will enhance access to beneficial ownership information in order to facilitate the identification, detection, tracing, freezing, seizing, recovery and return of proceeds of crime, amongst States Parties.
The resolution is also expected to strengthen international cooperation in asset recovery which will ensure that those involved in corruption and other criminal offences cannot conceal their identity, criminal conduct and other proceeds of crime through the misuse of Bank secrecy laws and complex company ownership structures.
Addressing the Conference, after the adoption of the resolution, Ambassador Suleiman Dauda Umar, Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna, Austria, said the resolution was inspired, inter-alia, by the
revelations of the Panama and Pandora Papers that over six billion dollars was lost to the activities of shell companies and Politically Exposed Persons who exploit opaque and complex structures of legal persons and legal entities to corruptly enrich themselves and their cronies at the expense of the society. he addressed the first informal He urges the Conference and State Parties to work together to improve beneficial ownership transparency at all levels.
According to him, the resolution will inspire more global action on beneficial ownership transparency by providing efficient access to adequate and accurate beneficial ownership information in a timely manner to domestic and foreign law enforcements authorities to facilitate the identification, recovery and return of proceeds of crime.
While Ambassador Suleiman called attention to the implementation of the recommendations in the resolution in which among other things, include sharing of good practices on promoting beneficial ownership information transparency, fiinancial disclosure requirements for public officials; the provision by UNODC of technical assistance, capacity-building and material support, upon request, to Member States, with regard to establishing and implementing a domestic beneficial ownership information regime.
Earlier, the Senior Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Nigeria in Vienna and Nigerian Desk Officer, UNODC, Barr Emma Nweke, who chaired the informal consultations on the resolution, which began in Vienna on 9th November 2021, had expressed satisfaction that the efforts which almost six months ago had paid off. He indicated that Nigeria will be recognized for its contributions in bringing the topic of Beneficial Ownership to the front burner of international discourse by tabling and seeing to the adoption of the first Conference of States Parties resolution on the important subject.
The Anambra born diplomat, said the resolution will encourage countries to protect their frontiers and enthrone beneficial ownership regime that will prevent assets from being stolen through opaque structures deployed by legal persons and legal arrangements to commit corruption, while facilitating the recovery and return of proceeds of crimes.