OILLTHFTThe Stop the Theft Campaign has said that tracking the illicit financial flows associated with oil theft is a critical tool in fighting and curbing the menace.

The campaign spokesperson, Dr. Patrick Cole, said this in a statement on Wednesday.

He was quoted as saying this during a workshop for international experts on economic crime with the aim of finding solutions to oil theft in the Niger Delta.

The workshop, which was convened by the Stop the Theft Campaign, was hosted at the House of Commons in London by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Extractive Industries and chaired by the Chair, International Board of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Clare Short.

Discussions at the workshop focused on assessing the relevance and potential application of existing international frameworks to track financial flows from oil theft.

Some of the principal speakers included the Director-General, Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering, Dr. Abdullahi Shehu; co-founder of the Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime, Saul Froomkin; and a Senior Finance Specialist at the World Bank, Emile van der Does de Willebois.

Key contributions were also made by a lecturer in financial law at SOAS, Dr. Richard Alexander, and partners in the law firms of Berwin Leighton Paisner and Clifford Chance, Mr. Segun Osuntokun and Mr. Alex Payanides, respectively.

Cole said, “Stealing industrial quantities of crude oil and selling it into the international system inevitably involves significant financial transactions. Tracking the illicit financial flows associated with oil theft is one of the key weapons available to the Nigerian government and international partners in the fight against oil theft.

“Bringing together these experts from around the world to discuss how to tackle this aspect of the problem is a first step towards deepening the knowledge and information on potential solutions to the problem and could form part of a long term and integrated approach.”

Nigeria lost N191bn ($1.23bn) to oil theft and vandalism in the first quarter of 2013.

Official figures indicate that the trade in stolen oil led to a 17 per cent fall in official oil sales in the first quarter of 2013, estimated at 400,000 barrels per day.