The prevailing narratives about corruption in Nigeria rarely mention its international dimension. They tend to gloss over how the United Kingdom, United States, and other financial centers welcome the steady stream of illicit cash flowing out Africa’s largest economy.
Yet the country’s kleptocrats are increasingly exploiting weaknesses in the international financial system to launder and conceal their ill-gotten gains, often via high-end real estate in London, New York, and Dubai.This month’s release of the Paradise Papers—a juicy sequel to last year’s Panama Papers leak—is a glaring reminder of how offshore tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions facilitate corruption in developing countries like Nigeria. According to Global Witness, the top five jurisdictions implicated in the Papers, are all UK Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies like the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, and the Isle of Man.
Nigeria has lost an estimated $230 billion or more in illegal financial outflows since 2004: