Transparency International Suggests Ways to Tackle Illicit Financial Flows in Nigeria 

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By Adedapo Adesanya

Transparency International (TI) has revealed “a more efficient measures” to tackle the rate of illicit financial flows into Nigeria. The agency said out of the $50 billion in Africa, Nigeria accounts for 34 percent in the sum of $17 billion on the continent.

In collaboration with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the bodies have called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to enjoin all agencies under it to help tackle this problem.

The partnership called on the apex bank to regulate the operators of the Bureau de Change (BDCs) to help report all formal and informal cash transactions, including diaspora remittances, which account for large financial inflow to Nigeria.

In a statement released after the third anti-money laundering conference held in Abuja, TI and its collaborators discussed and recommended how to explore new measures in Nigeria’s anti-money laundering regime.

The conference, which was convened by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with TI, ICPC, NFIU and CISLAC, issued a communiqué which was signed by the Corporate Affairs Commission, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, Code of Conduct Bureau and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), among others.

In the joint communiqué, the anti-corruption bodies maintained that illicit financial flows in Nigeria should be ended to attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

It added that suspicious financial transactions “are increasingly detected but not adequately investigated. Money launderers and their enablers in and outside Nigeria trade with impunity and without consequences.”

It equally observed that the BDCs were crucial in reporting formal and informal cash transactions, including diaspora remittances, which account for large financial inflow to Nigeria.

The communique, therefore, urged the CBN to improve its financial and regulatory oversight in combating money laundering and corruption through banks.

It explained the need for the CBN to improve its financial and regulatory oversight in combating money laundering and corruption through banks.

It added that the conversion of usable information into credible intelligence “should be improved by the anticorruption agencies

The communique also urged the National Assembly to prioritise the passage of all pending bills that will catalyse the anti-money laundering campaign especially the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA).

“The National Assembly must assert greater supervision and control over the financial institutions and their oversight institutions including the anti-corruption agencies to investigate and to reduce the volume of illicit financial flows and their damage to the national development,” it added.

Further,  President Muhammadu Buhari was enjoined to sign the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to facilitate establishment of a beneficial ownership register accessible to the public by the Corporate Affairs Commission.

It was stated that despite improvement in reported suspicious transactions, the rate of prosecution, conviction and asset confiscations on money laundering charges remained disappointing in Nigeria and in Africa.

The communique then emphasised the need for all anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria and Africa to transit from manual to digital technology to fight money laundering which it said is more efficient and result oriented.

It was also said pre-election and election years had the highest number of suspicious transaction reports, saying there was an inseparable factor between money laundering and political parties.

It also observed that availability of reliable data is critical for effective anti-money laundering measures.

They recommend that relevant public and private organisations should measure their business practices against international benchmarks as set by Financial Action Task Force and other global standard setters.

“Declaration of assets owned by senior officials and Politically Exposed Persons as required by the Code of Conduct Act must be enhanced, data made public and suspicious wealth investigated by the law enforcement.

“There should be promotion of transparency and the involvement of civil society groups and citizens’ participation in the utilisation and management of confiscated and seized assets,” the comminique demanded.

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