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Buhari Gives Window To Holders Of Hidden Foreign Assets

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President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2018 Amended Executive Order 008 on Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS).

Dr. Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on Media and Public Relations disclosed this on Thursday in Abuja.

“As a result of stakeholders input and need to strengthen implementation mechanisms and structures, the Order was reviewed.

“Consequently, the Amendment to the Executive Order 008 was signed on May 20 by President Buhari’’.

He said the Executive Order 008 as amended mandated the Attorney-General of the Federation to set up and implement a Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularisation Scheme otherwise referred to as `VOARS’.

“VOARS gives all relevant persons and their intermediaries who have defaulted in declaration of their offshore assets the opportunity to voluntarily declare and regularise their offshore assets, subject to fulfillment of the terms and conditions stipulated in the Order and other subsequent regulations’’.

Gwandu noted that in order to ensure seamless exchange of information, VOARS will work closely with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which has worldwide access to relevant financial information.

“The government hopes that relevant persons amongst Nigerians, their entities and intermediaries will seize the opportunity provided by VOARS to declare and regularise their offshore assets before it is too late.

“Relevant persons who voluntarily declare their offshore assets and pay the stipulated levy to the government will receive compliance certificates which allows them to use their residual assets freely without hindrance.

“The recoveries accruing to the government will be used for essential infrastructure development for the benefit of Nigerians’’.

He warned defaulters who may be tempted to continue the concealment of their offshore assets of the power enshrined in the Executive Order 008 as amended.

“It stipulates that `any domestic or foreign bank, asset manager or intermediary that cooperates with defaulters, enabling them to conceal offshore assets and obligations pertaining to them shall, upon discovery will be liable to pay to the federal government a penalty on the total of such offshore assets, in addition to other penalties provided for under the Nigerian law or laws of foreign countries from which Nigeria can benefit.

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