President Muhammadu Buhari of the Federal Republic of Nigeria signed the Executive Order 008 on Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (VOARS) 0ctober 2018. As a result of stakeholders input and need to strengthen implementation mechanisms and structures, the Order was reviewed. Consequently, the Amendment to Executive Order 2008 was signed on 20th May, 2020 by President Buhari.
This is contained in a statement by Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu; Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday.
Executive Order 008 as amended mandated the Attorney General of the Federation to set up and implement a Voluntary Offshore Assets Regularization Scheme (hereinafter 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 regularize their offshore assets, subject to fulfillment of the terms and conditions stipulated in the Order and other subsequent regulations.
In order to ensure seamless exchange of information, VOARS will work closely with Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which has worldwide access to relevant financial information.
FGN hopes that relevant persons amongst Nigerians, Nigerian entities and their intermediaries will seize the opportunity provided by VOARS to declare and regularize their offshore assets before it is too late. Relevant persons who voluntarily declare their offshore assets and pay the stipulated levy to FGN will receive compliance certificates which allows them to use their residual assets freely without hindrance. The recoveries accruing to FGN will be used for essential infrastructure development for benefit of Nigerians.
For defaulters who may be tempted to continue concealment of their offshore assets, Executive Order 008 as amended 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, be liable to pay to FGN a penalty on the total of such offshore assets, in addition to other penalties provided for under Nigerian laws or laws of foreign countries from which Nigeria can benefit.”