Financial Crimes: Unmask Artificial Entities’ Owners Now, ICPC Boss Tells UN, Global Community

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The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye (SAN), has called on the United Nations and the global community to unmask the owners of artificial legal entities in order to combat money laundering, Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and hidden ill-gotten wealth.

The ICPC boss made the call as a panelist at the Ninth Session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP9) to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) at the International Conference Centre in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

Speaking on the draft resolution L9 entitled “Enhancing Access and Use of Beneficial Ownership Information to Facilitate the Identification, Recovery, and Return of Proceeds of Crime”, Prof. Owasanoye affirmed that artificial legal entities were being used for illegality and financial crimes including illicit financial flows.

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He said: “We have held so many meetings and conferences on beneficial ownership. This is the time for action. We need to act now and lift the veil on these artificial legal entities that are being used to perpetrate crimes against developing countries.

“Lifting the veil on these owners of artificial legal entities will assist in asset tracing and recovery of hidden and stolen funds. The developing countries are being deprived of the funds required for development.

“There is no need for the continuous debate on artificial legal entities and beneficial ownership. We need to reduce these meetings and debates and take action now. Action is what is required, which is the lifting of the veil on these owners. We need to know those behind these artificial entities.”

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Although welcoming the acts of charities, the ICPC Chairman, however, noted that charities are now used for corruption.

He canvassed information sharing and collaboration among intelligence agencies to assist in their operations, adding that the absence of transparency and information makes it difficult to know those behind crimes.

The CoSP9 is being attended by top government officials and heads of anti-corruption agencies from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Netherlands, Australia, Austria, Ukraine, India, United Arab Emirates, Nigeria, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Mali as well as international bodies, civil society organisations, and the private sector.

In a related development, Prof. Owasanoye has called for global cooperation and information sharing in addressing corruption if Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are to be achieved.

The ICPC Chairman stated this as a panelist at a side event organised by the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA) during the Ninth Session of the Conference of the States Parties (CoSP9) to the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

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“Corruption undermines efforts at realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) if not combatted. It escalates poverty as well as increases inequality.

“Therefore, networking and information sharing have become necessary to combat corruption, and invariably address poverty and inequality gap,” Owasanoye stated.