The Global Forum on Asset Recovery has disclosed that the United States government, over the last three years, has provided considerable assistance to boost the capacity of the Nigerian government to investigate and prosecute corruption and financisl crime cases. The disclosure was made in a fact sheet issued by the office of the Forum's spokesperson.
According to the fact sheet, the assistance provided by the US government has been in many areas, including asset forfeiture, anti-money laundering and programmes to support the Nigerian civil society’s capacity to ensure transparency and accountability in government.
"Over the past three years, the United States has funded a project with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to mentor officials investigating and prosecuting money laundering crimes, including on asset forfeiture and counter-financing of terrorism, in addition to providing technical assistance to the Nigerian judiciary," the fact sheet stated.
It added that the US government will continue working with the EFCC to further strengthen the commission's institutional development.
The U.S. government funds the Open Government Partnership’s (OGP) Support Unit through a joint grant between the Department of State and USAID to work with civil society and governments to develop commitments aimed at fighting corruption and promoting transparency. The US also funded a project, which led to the drafting of Nigeria’s OGP National Action Plan through collaboration with EFCC, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC), Nigeria Police Force and civil society organizations.
The US government equally supported outreach efforts through infographics and social media on corruption-related issues, making public data from Nigerian anti-corruption agencies more accessible, and training Nigerian journalists on best investigative journalism practices.
The United States is also co-hosting the ongoing Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) with the United Kingdom in line with its commitment to preventing and combatting corruption globally.
The World Bank estimates that over $20 billion is stolen by corrupt officials annually.
"This is money that should be used to ensure the sustainable development of these countries for essential services such as schools, hospitals, and roads. Rather than lining the pockets of corrupt officials, these funds should help grow economies and improve the well-being of the people of these countries," the fact sheet explained.
Since the fiscal year 2016, the Department of State and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) have dedicated more than $115 million annually to a wide range of foreign assistance efforts to counter corruption, including capacity building of foreign governments to create stronger laws and more effective institutions
The US contributed $1 million to the World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) to organize GFAR and provide technical assistance to support country-level capacity building and coordination on asset recovery cases. GFAR provides a platform to enable Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine to make progress on significant asset recovery cases in connection with financial centers and other jurisdictions.
The Tunisian law enforcement sector has benefited from technical assistance programmes, which have improved public financial management, capacity building through the OGP, which has helped the Tunisian government and civil society to establish relevant tools to improve transparency and accountability in the public sector.
The Department of State is also providing funding to increase the capacity of the Tunisian Financial Judicial Police, the body responsible for prosecuting complex financial corruption cases.
U.S. foreign assistance to Ukraine has contributed to the country's seizure of about $1.3 billion in cash and the discovery of over $3.24 billion in stolen public funds. U.S. law enforcement professionals are also within Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) to help build anti-corruption and asset recovery capacity and strengthen the country’s overall anti-corruption efforts. In addition, U.S. support has contributed to 333 criminal proceedings, 207 notices of suspicion and the finalization of 108 indictments in corruption-related cases.