$7 billion corruption scandal in Nigeria

Nigerian scamThe BBC reports allegations of a $7 billion corruption scandal in Nigeria. This is about 1/4 of the developing country’s annual budget!

Nigeria has an unusual program through which the government buys fuel for distribution to its citizenry. Roughly put, reformers allege that government officials received $7 billion in kickbacks, money which would have increased the government’s cost of purchasing the fuel.

We accountants like to define our expertise narrowly. We have rules for financial reporting, for auditing, and for taxation. That’s what we know and that’s what we do. We are taught that if an issue is out of our expertise, then we must find someone else to do it.

But if we define our expertise more widely – to ensuring transparency, planning, and proper controls – then we could better address broader issues like earth-shatteringly humongous financial scandals in developing countries, where corrupt government officials steal money from people who literally can’t afford clothes to cover their backs. We have much expertise to contribute to these policy and societal issues, but it seems like we always leave them to the amateurs.

How do you think accountants can create transparency in a place like Nigeria?

[Image: Nigerian scam by zouzouwizman, on Flickr]

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About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

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