LONDON — Anti-corruption activists hoping to shine a light on the hundreds of millions of dollars funneled through London every year are organizing tours of properties allegedly bought with dishonest money.
The “Kleptocracy Tour” is billed as a journey to the dark side of globalization. This is the first such tour which focuses on Nigeria.
“The international community, specifically the United Kingdom, the United States, other financial centers, are playing a huge role in facilitating elite corruption in Nigeria, through offshore corporate tax havens, lax banking, and property laws,” said tour guide Matthew Page, a former U.S. State Department Nigeria analyst, now with Transparency International.
The tour’s first stop is the capital’s wealthy Belgravia district. Tax papers leaked from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca suggest two multi-million dollar properties are linked to Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki. He has denied the allegations.
Also among the several tour stops are lavish properties that have been subjected to asset forfeiture proceedings by a court in Houston, Texas. The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating allegations they were received as bribes by Diezani Alison-Madueke, the former Nigerian Oil Minister and OPEC Secretary.
Nigeria analyst Clementine Wallop says Nigeria’s president is following through, though slowly, on pledges to crack down on corruption.
“It contributes to poverty. It contributes to poor education. It contributes to terrorism,” Wallop said of corruption. “You have communities where the young men are compelled to or driven into the arms of organizations like Boko Haram as a result of the depravation which results from corruption.”
Nigeria’s Information Minister, Lai Mohammed, told VOA the West must do more to help repatriate corrupt money.
“The government will not relent in pursuing these people,” Mohammed said. “But we also need the cooperation of many foreign countries, because sometimes we are hampered by the foreign jurisdictions.”
An estimated $100 billion of corrupt money passes through London each year. Activists say fears over the economy in a post-Brexit world are stalling government efforts to clamp down on global corruption, an industry with the British capital at its core.
– Henry Ridgwell I VOA