'It is easier to steal money in Nigeria'
She said the country has been fighting to recover the illicit funds of corruption over the past 20 years.
The minister, speaking at a three-day conference organised by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), said the country has been fighting to recover the illicit funds of corruption that have been transferred out of the country over the past 20 years.
"My experience from the little time I’ve spent as a minister is that it’s far too easy to do these things in Nigeria, and we’ve got to make it much more difficult.
"A lot has been done about speaking about the problem. We need to move to how to solve the problem. From the Ministry of Finance’s perspective, our view is that prevention is better than cure.
"Recovering money is exciting but it’s difficult. It takes years. We’re still battling to recover money that was looted from Nigeria 20 years ago.
"So, my perspective as minister of Finance and as an accountant is: how do we block the money from getting out in the first place?
"How do we strengthen our controls? How do we create the early warning systems that tell us to flag certain transactions?
"Let’s stop the money going out; let’s stop the loss, and then we can work on recovery."
The minister also revealed that there are plans being put in place to make it harder for looters to loot the country's treasury.
"We are taking steps to improve tax administration, to improve compliance and just to generally make it a little more difficult for people to loot the treasury."
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At the conference centered on 'Promoting International Co-operation in Combating Illicit Financial Flows and Enhancing Asset Recovery to Foster Sustainable Development', Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo had, on Monday, called for foreign banking institutions involved in transactions of illicit funds abroad to also be punished to curb the act.
“We have to look at somehow delegitimising those kinds of financial institutions and criminalising them, so that banks and financial institutions that actually engage in this are called out and made to face the consequences of engaging in criminal practices. If that isn’t done, we are not likely to go very far.”
PACAC chairman, Professor Itse Sagay revealed that 55 top government officials and private businessmen illicitly diverted N1.35 trillion and $7.5 million between 2006 and 2013.
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