Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act

Symposium on IFFs: Piercing the Veil of Secrecy in Illicit Financial Flows

In the last decade, there have been seven major leaks of financial documents in tax havens which have exposed the international web of financial flows, mechanisms to facilitate these flows and the major role players in these activities. In each leak, questions often arise on how both legal loopholes and illicit means are used to facilitate the outflow of funds from low- and middle-income countries to tax havens by corporations, wealthy individuals, and politically exposed persons (PEPs). These leaks are often the result of whistleblower-led investigations and the release of these financial documents has become a primary resource in understanding how financial corruption works globally. The effects of these leaks have seen heads of government sacked or resigned in some cases while little to no action takes place in other countries. However, what is undeniable is the role of whistleblowers is increasingly becoming central to curbing illicit financial flows (IFFs) especially as the global digital economy and stronger privacy-enhancing technologies make the detection of IFFs harder. Within Africa, very few countries have comprehensive national laws for whistleblowers despite the majority ratifying international agreements for the protection of whistleblowers. Using Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa as case studies, this note reviews the regulatory landscape in the countries and the extent to which current laws and practices aid or hinder whistleblowing on IFFs.