Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, on Monday, 22 October, 2012, decried private sector involvement and connivance in corruption cases and called for higher level of professionalism and ethical comportment by operators of the sector. He made the call in Lagos at the Launch of the 12th Global Fraud Survey of Ernst & Young West Africa.

According to him, investigations by the EFCC into several cases of graft have shown that private sector operators are covering up and conniving with individuals and firms implicated in corruption cases. Specifically, Lamorde wondered how a prominent local accounting firm gave clearances to many oil firms involved in the on-going trial of fuel subsidy payments by government. The said firm actually cleared for payment an oil vessel that had ceased to operate three years before the payments were made. "Financial services companies like banks, accounting and audit firms and other operators in the private sector are involved in many corruption cases and the practice must stop"', he proposed.

Lamorde expressed worries over the effects of corrupt practices on the standard of living of Nigerians and Africans in general, saying that it was regrettable that more than half of the 840million inhabitants of Africa live on less than half a dollar a year. Besides, he said that it was also unfortunate that 32 out of the world's 38 heavily-indebted nations are from Africa. To checkmate this, he said that the EFCC would continue to tackle all cases of economic and financial crimes and make it difficult for the corrupt to continue to ply their trade.

Lamorde also called for a more practical and functional procedure of prosecution of corruption cases in such a way that delays and unnecessary bottlenecks associated with the trial of such cases will be a thing of the past. "There must be a fundamental change in our procedure of prosecution. Timelines should be given to the resolution of corruption cases. We must find a way of making this thing work. We must debate it", he said. He also stressed that the EFCC has never been faulted in the investigation and prosecution of its cases, challenging anyone with such an allegation to come forward with it.

In his presentation, Ernst & Young's West Africa Forensic Leader, Linus Osita Okeke, called for urgent and integrated steps aimed at combating the scourge of corruption in Nigeria. He particularly mentioned the report of the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, on ten firms alleged to be corrupt and regretted that 8 out of the 10 firms are from Nigeria. The report was later disputed by Lamorde who said that the report was incorrect and blown out of proportion. He said that one of the firms on the list was listed four times instead of being listed once and this disclosure drew applause from the crowd. Okeke also called for urgent actions against un-resolved corruption cases in court, stressing that such actions are needed to move the nation forward.

The Ernst & Young 12th Global Fraud Survey drew participants from the private sector, government, media and financial institutions. Issues pertaining to fraud investigation and dispute services; corruption, bribery and anti-corruption risks and laws were discussed. David Stuib, Global leader, Ernst & Young, said that bribery and corruption investigation has become a global challenge. He appreciated positive growths in the Nigerian economy and expressed optimism that the journey of transformation has begun in Nigeria.

Wilson Uwujaren
Ag. Head, media and Publicity

October 22, 2012