By Robert Kibet
Jurgen Leske, the OECD program officer when he addressed the training conference at the Kenya School of Monitory Studies in Nairobi, Kenya.
NAIROBI June 11,2018-African continent is likely to be subjected to reliance on the ‘unpredictable’ foreign aid unless its over 50 countries agree on a multi-agency collaboration to investigate and fight illicit financial flows, a taco of fences and other financial crimes training conference in Nairobi has been told.
The capacity building conference that brings together 48 participants from 18 African countries, including including revenue and financial fraud investigators, is being hosted by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in conjunction with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
“The African continent relies much on aid because it loses billions of its money through illicit financial flows, bribery and corruption. The sad reality is that it is we, ‘African governments’ that have allowed ourselves to space for loopholes and leakages which encourages theft,” David Yego, the Kenya Revenue Authority commissioner in charge of investigation and enforcement told the conference.
According to Yego, Africa as a continent has vast resources which if properly harnessed, can take a role of becoming a donor even to the western world and stop becoming a receiver of aid.
Speaking to Pan African Visions on the sideline of the conference, Yego argued that what the key players in the fight against tax crimes is the necessary skills and exposure in order to be ahead of the fraudsters, whom he says, are much ahead with the evolving new technologies.
“We seems to be trailing the fraudsters. We need to up our ha e, learn and research a lot in order to seal the loopholes,” he said, adding that some multinational companies take the advantage of the disconnect in collaboration between countries in fighting financial crimes.
The programme, being held under the auspices of the Africa Academy for Tax and Financial Crime Investigation will run from 11th June, 2018 to 22nd June, 2018 at the Kenya School of Monetary Studies, Nairobi, pooling together tax and financial crime investigators, prosecutors, financial analysts, and judicial officials.
The two-week course, steered by an international faculty of senior and experienced tax crime investigators and financial crime experts drawn from Germany, Norway, United States of America, the United Kingdom and Uganda, seeks to help tax crime investigators to detect and combat tax offences and other financial crimes, which include money laundering and corruption.
The training seeks to equip participants with key modern skills required in financial investigations such as the ability to trace money through complex financial arrangements. With the new skills, the participants will be better placed to identify links between suspects and illicit financial activities.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), governments across the world have actively been pursuing the fight against tax and financial crimes through key strategic approaches in addressing the menace. Training of tax and financial crimes specialists has been one of the strategic approaches employed by many governments.
For Juergen Leske, the OECD programme officer, curbing the over US$50 billion estimated to be lost in Africa annually through illicit financial flows requires a multi-agency approach in fighting is of essence than before.
“Evolution in technology poses a myriad of challenges and obstacles in the fight against illicit financial flows, tax evasion, money laundering, bribery and corruption. But with collaboration and capacity building of participants with relevant skills linked to emerging technologies and enhancing collaboration amongst the Africa countries has the potential to improve in efficiency,” said Jurgen.
Opimbi Osore, from the GIZ Illicit Financial Flows program argues there’s much of illicit financial flows happening amongst African countries than perceived to be happening from across the African borders to the western world.
“Organized crime is back with bang! A lot is lost through corruption and bribery, including human trafficking, but because of lack of clear data, we cannot account as to the exact estimates,” Opimbi told Pan African Visions on the sideline of the event.
He further added that the states of fragility among some African nations are propagated, and used as a conduit to help illicit financial flows thrive.
The Kenya School of Revenue Authority is one of the only four Regional Training Centres (RTC) of the World Customs Organization (WCO) in Africa, with only South Africa, Zimbabwe and Mauritius having tax and customs training institutions.