The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has revealed that it is currently working assiduously to bridge the gaps in efforts to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorism financing in Nigeria, whilst also fostering timely information exchange and sharing between member Financial Intelligence Units within West Africa Sub-Region.
This, according to the NFIU is because lack of common Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Compliance Standards enables criminals to move from one institution to other institutions and from one jurisdiction to another to perpetuate crimes ranging from but not limited to on Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.
Giving his keynote speech at the 5th Induction Ceremony and Annual General Meeting of the Compliance Institute, Nigeria (CIN), held in Abuja, on behalf of the Director, NFIU, Modibo Tukur,Muhammed Giya pointed out that Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism (CFT) are challenging endeavours and special battles of global concern which can only be won through cooperation, effective coordination and collaboration.
Muhammed Giya said that Money laundering and terrorism financing activity in one country could have serious cross-border and even global adverse effects on other countries.
Muhammed noted that Jurisdictions with weak or ineffective controls are especially attractive for money launderers and financiers of terrorism.
“These criminals exploit the complexity of the global financial system, the speed at which money can traverse borders, as well as differences between national laws to carry out their concealment objectives.” ,
He also said that the absence of common AML/CFT Compliance Standards in Africa and its Sub-Regions has continued to hinder the effectiveness of the fight against money laundering and the combating of financing of terrorism in the Continent.
According to him, “Special Money Laundering Schemes such as Trade-based Money Laundering (TBML) that are cross border in nature can only be defeated through effective collaboration, coordination and extensive use of Technology.
“To foster timely information exchange and sharing between member Financial Intelligence Units in the Sub-Region , NFIU which is the new Headquarters of West African FIUs Forum is currently developing Secure Web Exchange Platform to be hosted by the Forum Secretariat for information exchange on Money Laundering and terrorism Financing in the region.”
In his words, : “It is a fact that financial institutions, in particular, banks remain a key conduit through which money flows and where money can be laundered which makes the financial system the focal point of anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism initiatives.
“Main objectives of combating money laundering and terrorist financing are to protect society from crime and the stability and integrity of the Country’s Financial Systems. It requires a coordinated approach by all stakeholders: Regulatory Bodies, Reporting Entities, Financial Intelligence Units and others.
“In the battle against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, Fostering Common AML-CFT Compliance Standards through effective Regional/Continental Cooperation, Coordination and Collaboration remains the panacea for effective AML/CFT Regime in Africa and its Sub-Regions
“It is therefore recommended that all AML/CFT Stakeholders should entrench strategic partnership that will potentially take the form of a platform where all parties (both private and public) along the value chain collaborate—sharing relevant information, standardising AML-CFT Compliance Standards, and collectively monitoring for red flags,” Muhammed Giya urged.
He highlighted areas where the sub-region can foster AML/ CFT to include Customer on-boarding and Monitoring, Implementing group-wide AML/CFT programmes, Correspondent Banking, Processing Wire Transfers.
The NFIU Director, called on FIUs, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, Private Organizations and Self Regulatory Organizations (SROs) to facilitate quick investigation of financial crimes.
“Countries should ensure that financial institutions include required and accurate originator information, and required beneficiary information, on wire transfers and related messages, and that the information remains with the wire transfer or related message throughout the payment chain.
“Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Africa can facilitate the effective implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards across the Continent through adopting uniform and common AML/CFT Regulations for Financial Institutions under the Supervision,” Giya stated.
Meanwhile, the President, Compliance Institute, Nigeria, Mr Pattison Boleigha, congratulated the inductees for their gallant efforts in taking and passing the Institute’s examinations.
“I reassure you that you have joined a select crop of professionals that will help reshape the corporate Compliance culture in Nigeria, Africa and indeed, the world.’’Boleigha enthused.
“The skills, knowledge and expertise that you gained will enhance your professional competencies and enable you to secure good Compliance jobs and professional dignity that will help you provide value added services to your employers, thus furthering the standards and developments of the Compliance profession,” he said.
However, Boleigha emphasized that their induction as certified members have imposed on them the challenge of having to,” henceforth, stand tall in integrity, impeccable in character, professional in service, alert to global trends and uphold high ethical and professional standards.”
With the institute established to encourage, promote and revive the consciousness for compliance within and outside the financial industry in the country, they pledged to promote best practice standards for the compliance profession and regulatory standards for the industry by facilitating and encouraging professional development and accreditation for its members.
The Institute has a Board of Directors with notable corporate and individual professions such as the Chief Compliance Officers of major banks and experienced Compliance Practitioners in the country.
Presently with membership of 2,682, CIN noted that they are poised to drive for more membership by extending to all sectors including Insurance, Oil sector, Pension, Micro finance, Bureau de Change, Tax Administration and the Capital Market.
Speaking further, Boleigha revealed that the idea for the institute was borne out of the desire to close the capacity gap in Compliance knowledge and the low level of Compliance culture in the country on one hand, and the entire African region on the other.
“Five years after starting operations, the Institute has definitely started seeing an increasing rate of companies embedding compliance practices in their businesses. The right tone for Compliance in the country is gradually building momentum.
“The Covid-19 has actually accelerated the growth of Compliance as a major area of attention in the country. Covid-19 has brought the need to create more awareness on Compliance with the preventive measures and the Institute is poised to play its role in this respect.
“Compliance should be part of all organization’s operations and need to be entrenched in all staff and Compliance Officers through training and awareness creation,” he noted.