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Sunday, 10 April 2016

Panama Papers: SERAP gives CCB ultimatum to probe named public officers


The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has requested Mr Sam Saba, Chairman, Code of Conduct Bureau to investigate the current and immediate past high-ranking public officers named in the Panama Papers and others that are maintaining and operating or have maintained and operated foreign accounts in other safe havens and secrecy jurisdictions.
The organisation then urged the Bureau to refer such officers to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution.”

The organisation said that, “We would be grateful if the Bureau could begin to take these steps within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then as to the steps the Bureau is taking to address the concerns raised in this letter, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel the Bureau to effectively discharge its constitutional and statutory mandates in this instance.”

Other demands made by SERAP include:

1. Promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate and verify high-ranking public officers’ asset declaration forms including those submitted by current and immediate past governors of the 36 states of the federation and the current and immediate past leaders of the National Assembly to find out those who have made false declarations in order to cover up assets illegally acquired in corruption or abuse of office;
2. Name and shame anyone found to have breached the Code of Conduct for Public Officers through the use of safe havens and secrecy jurisdictions like Panama, and refer such person to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution;
3. Promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate and prosecute former governors who currently serve in the National Assembly after their ‘retirement’ as governors and continue to receive remuneration from public funds in addition to their pension and emolument;
4.Promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate, name and shame and where appropriate and there is sufficient admissible evidence refer to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution high-ranking public officers who perform the functions of their offices before submitting their asset declaration forms to the Code of Conduct Bureau. SERAP believes that since the declaration of assets precedes the taking of oath of office and oath of allegiance, a fortiori, a political office holder cannot, strictly speaking, legally assume office before declaring his assets;
5. Work closely with other anti-corruption agencies to make it harder for corrupt public officers to access the international financial system such as Panama to hide and enjoy their ill-gotten wealth
6. Promptly, thoroughly and transparently investigate and where appropriate and there is sufficient admissible evidence refer to the Code of Conduct Tribunal for prosecution public officers using shell companies to hide their identity and ill-gotten wealth. In cases of false declarations, the Code of Conduct Bureau should publish an open list of the beneficial owner/controller of all companies and trusts;
7.Share information on asset declaration forms submitted by public officers with banks to prevent corruption-related money laundering.

Vanguard

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