Its Head, Legal and Prosecutions, Lagos Zonal Office, Kwarbai Latong who spoke yesterday at a media briefing in Lagos on anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism, said the figure was compiled by the United States based Global Financial Integrity, relying on data from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The forum was organised by The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
Latong said Nigeria ranked eight out of 20 countries notorious for illicit financial outflows, adding that the proceeds of money laundering are infused into the financial system and transferred to other locations and/or financial institutions followed by the integration of the funds into the legitimate economy as “clean” money in various business ventures and/or assets.
He said: “Financial crime is prevalent in all facets of the society, public and private, and exists in the political, economic, social, religious and cultural spheres. It has done the greatest harm to Africa’s economic, political and social development, undermining the legitimacy of public institutions. The illicit acquisition of wealth have had damaging effect on society, ethical values, justice, the rule of law and sustainable developments in Africa.”
He explained that money laundering also undermines the integrity of financial institutions and markets as laundered money ultimately flows into global financial systems adding that any country integrated into the international financial systems is at risk.
He added that an estimated $100 billion was corruptly exported from Nigeria between the mid 1980s and 1999 while more than $1 trillion illicit funds flowed into the United States annually through the international financial systems. He said this includes proceeds from drug trafficking and other forms of economic and financial crimes.
GIABA Director General, Adama Coulibaly said the possible social and political costs of money laundering, if left unchecked, are serious.