Nigeria has been rated the most fraudulent country on the continent according to global audit and financial advisory firm, KPMG. The rating not only punctures President Goodluck Jonathan’s claim that his administration has done better than previous ones in the fight against corruption, but also highlights the faulty legal system operating in the country.
According to KPMG, Nigeria accounted for the highest number of fraud cases on the continent in the first half of 2012. The cost of fraud in the country during the period was put at N225 billion ($1.5 billion).
KPMG, in its second Africa Fraud Barometer result, released on Wednesday, also said Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa accounted for 74 per cent of all fraud cases in Africa in the same period.
The report stated that the number of fraud cases in Nigeria has been worsened by fraud and corruption in the oil sector. It identified the common forms of fraud in the country as “bribes in the private and public sector, misappropriation, and contract inflation.”
Government officials and top management staff in private companies were described as the worst offenders leaving companies shareholders and the general public to bear the brunt of their profligacy.
The report further blames the long and tedious legal system in the country of doing next to nothing in bringing perpetrators to book. “The general belief in Nigeria is that the legal system is not effective enough,” said Olumide Olayinka, Head of Risk Consulting of KPMG Nigeria.
“There have been a lot of cases involving the banking and the oil and gas sectors or government that lead to prosecution. The current noticeable trend is that many cases either end with a plea bargain or are simply closed without any conviction,” he added.
Data for the fraud barometer are aggregated from news articles and reviewing fraud cases from designated databases. Though the amount of fraud in the country is grim, the report observes a decline in the cases of fraud from 520 in the second half of 2011 to 503 cases in the first half of 2012 in the continent.
During the same period, the value of fraud decreased from N495 billion (US$3.3 billion) to N300 billion (US$ 2 billion). Jonathan had during the presidential media chat last Sunday said his administration was pro-actively fighting and winning the war on corruption. He said he believed had done better than his predecessors in fighting corruption in the country.