The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has recovered 301 houses from two public officials in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
ICPC Chairman, Bolaji Owasanoye, disclosed this at an investigative hearing organized by the house of representatives ad hoc committee on the operations of real estate developers on Thursday.
Owasanoye, who did not mention the names of the affected civil servants, said that 241 buildings were retrieved from one of the suspects at different locations within the FCT, while the remaining 60 were recovered on a large expanse of land at another location.
The ICPC boss bemoaned the increasing rate at which corrupt public officers were using real estate investment as a vehicle for hiding ill-gotten wealth and money laundering in the country.
He accused the officials of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) of being collaborators in the scam, noting that the lack of proper documentation and registration of lands and estates in the FCT has resulted in corruption in the sector.
Owasanoye said, “Public officers acquire estates in pseudonyms to conceal the illegal origin of funds. This is made possible by the absence of proper documentation, the registration of titles to land and estates in the country and the non-enforcement of beneficial ownership standards.
“A tour round Abuja, especially the metropolis and the Central Area, would show a lot of estates that are built up but empty. If they had been constructed with funds that were borrowed at market rates, I don’t think any investor would leave such proprieties empty.
“One way or the other they would put them to use. So it is suspected that some of those estates have been used to launder ill-gotten public funds.”
“Even though we have not aggregated the numbers that relate to land matters, we have, however, received a number of petitions from stakeholders in the real estate and housing sector, off-takers, prospective buyers and the general public regarding the behaviour and antics of real estate developers within the FCT, and sometimes outside of the FCT on this very important subject matter.
“These complaints and petitions are varied; they border on forgery, the closing of land documents, double or multiple land allocations, allocation of land without the minister’s approval, revocation of land title without due process, non delivery of projects, embezzlement of sourced capital, land racketeering, the use of land syndicates and speculators, the marketing of fake layouts, fraudulent allocation of land, inordinate delay in processing of land documents for those who subscribe to their projects, general abuse of office, and other related issues and challenges.
“Corrupt public officers use real estate investment as a vehicle for hiding ill-gotten wealth and money laundering. Public officers acquire estates in pseudonyms to conceal the illegal origin of funds.
“The commission has, for example, a case in which 241 houses were recovered from a public officer and another one in which we recovered 60 buildings on a large expanse of land from a public officer”.
Also speaking, the deputy director of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Daniel Esei said the agency should be empowered to sanction persons found guilty of money laundering.
“EFCC should be given clear powers to be able to mete out administrative sanction on all erring entities as effective, dissuasive and proportionate sanctions as tools in ensuring that there is a sound and a robust anti-money laundering regime,” he said.
KanyiDaily recalls that the ICPC had recently arrested a JAMB former registrar, Professor Dibu Ojerinde, for allegedly misappropriating N900 million while heading the National Examination Council (NEC).