The Independent Commission on Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses (ICPC) says corrupt public officials hide under the guise of real estate investments to conceal ill-gotten wealth.
Bolaji Owasanoye, president of the ICPC, spoke Thursday during his appearance before the ad hoc committee of the House of Representatives investigating the operations of real estate developers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Speaking at the investigative hearing, Owasanoye said that “many” estates in the nation’s capital are without occupants, adding that there is no investor who would build estates and leave them unoccupied.
âCorrupt public officials are using real estate investing as a means of concealing ill-gotten wealth and money laundering. Public officials acquire property under pseudonyms to cover up the illegal origin of funds, âhe said.
âThis is made possible by the lack of proper documentation, the registration of land and property titles in the country and the failure to enforce beneficial ownership standards.
âA tour around Abuja, especially the metropolis and the central area, would show many estates built but empty. If they had been built with funds borrowed at market rates, I don’t think an investor would have such empty properties; somehow they would put them to good use. It is therefore suspected that some of these areas have been used to launder ill-gotten public funds.
âThe commission has, for example, a case in which 241 houses recovered were recovered from a public officer and another in which we recovered 60 buildings over a large area of ââland from a public officer.
âReal estate corruption promotes illicit financial flows. The real estate sector is globally recognized as attractive to IFFs, largely because it is partially informal, not properly regulated, easily subject to abuse, using shell companies, that he uses intermediaries and third parties to acquire real value with the proceeds of crime. or illicit funds.
âI must note that the main culprits and criminals who frustrate the issues are the staff of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and their collaborators.
The President of the ICPC, however, added that the commission had adopted various measures to reduce corruption in the real estate sector.
âOver the years, the ICPC has partnered with a number of relevant registries to reduce incidents of corruption in the land system through intelligence and information sharing, making available our forensic tools to analyzing documents and holding false documents and prosecuting offenders. ,” he said.
âThe commission has repeatedly recommended an administrative resolution, where the FCDA is required to remedy anything that has gone wrong and reassign or withdraw and assign according to the justice of the case to the era.
“This is apart from the prosecution of offenders where offenses are noted and violations of relevant laws are established and in some cases ill-gotten property is recovered and returned to victims.”
He also told lawmakers that efforts should be made to ensure the transparency of mass housing projects by “providing viable evaluation mechanisms to eliminate the general corruption that hinders these programs.”