Joel Ameyou is a corporate lawyer, who comes from Lome, Togo in West Africa where he serves as the Chief Compliance Auditor for the Togo Revenue Authority. Prior to working in the public sector, he worked as a Legal Assistant for Tax and Laws, Ecobank and Cabinet Sylvia Aquereburu, one of the leading legal firms in the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) where, as legal advisor and compliance manager, he led them to become the first ISO-certified legal firm in Togo.
CIPE’s Stephanie Bandyk discusses with Joel Ameyou the challenges and opportunities for combating corruption in Togo.
- Could you briefly describe the rationale for the current anti-corruption initiatives in the Togo Revenue Authority (RA)? What has served as the main motivation or impetus?
Togo is a French-speaking country and our fiscal system is designed after France’s fiscal system – customs, tax administration, and property administration are all different institutions. Because of the economic recession, the government decided to put all these trade institutions together into one – the Revenue Authority. Corruption and ethics are not the only issues facing Togo. Togo lacks a culture of performance. We – the public administration – didn’t have a culture of management focused on results previously. We do not have this practice of auditing, meaning a culture of accountability. In order to try to infuse a culture of accountability in the administration, the government decided to put the Togo Revenue Authority in place.
Global Financial Integrity reported that in 2012 US $991.2 billion left developing countries in illicit financial flows (IFFs). More than US $18 billion is reported in illicit financial flows from Togo, one of the smallest countries in Africa as far as size is concerned, from 2003 through 2012, putting it at the top of the list if it were to consider IFFs/GDP. This situation is the result of the existing tax havens, tax evasion, and money laundering through misleading invoicing in trade transactions, etc.
The current reform is not only a remedy for the lack of transparency and accountability in public administration. It is also the ambition of the Government of Togo, like some other developing countries, to mobilize enough resources internally to finance its own development in the context of restricted international donor funding due to the international financial crisis.
Putting in place the semi-autonomous Revenue Authority is a clear response to poor corporate administration and political governance. Thanks to the political motivation for the reform, it was voted unanimously in the parliament and granted sufficient administrative and financial autonomy. It liberates the Revenue Authority from some undue political influences. Read more…