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Buhari’s comments reveal UK weakness in freezing corrupt assets


The UK’s asset recovery regime is not fit for purpose and continues to be too easy for corrupt individuals to launder their corrupt wealth through the UK, according to recent research (Closing Down the Safe Havens, Don’t look Won’t Find) from Transparency International.

This has been reinforced today in comments made to The Telegraph by Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, which reveal the continued weaknesses of the UK’s asset recovery regime, despite apparent political will from both sides.
President Buhari said, “If there are obvious cases, like bank accounts, infrastructure houses and hotels, I would hope they could do it quicker, so that we can claim these things back promptly.” He also added that one of the biggest suspects of stealing funds from Nigeria is currently in the UK.
Robert Barrington, Transparency International UK Executive Director said:
“President Buhari’s remarks show that even with a cooperative government in the country of origin, freezing assets is difficult, let alone when a state refuses to cooperate.”
“It is unacceptable that when two states such as Nigeria and UK can agree on a problem, the system is still too weak for serious action. Obviously the destination country needs to make sure it safeguards legitimate property rights, but equally obviously the UK’s system is being abused by those seeking a safe haven for corrupt money.”
“With money able to move around the world at the touch of a button, more sophisticated resources are needed to tackle these flows of corrupt capital. It’s essential that the UK moves to require transparency on the ownership of companies and properties in the UK. It should be a requirement for any foreign company owning property in the UK to register the beneficial owner with the Land Registry, as it already is for UK companies.”
“If President Buhari is serious, he might use the Prime Minister’s forthcoming Anti-Corruption Summit to press for concerted global action on these loopholes in the international anti-corruption architecture.”
Last May,  Transparency International UK called for consideration of “Unexplained Wealth Orders” as a further tool in the fight to recover corrupt assets. This new power would allow law enforcement agencies in the UK to freeze suspected corrupt assets, without having to wait for a conviction in the country of origin.


Read 165 times Last modified on Tuesday, 9 February 2016 15:49

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