By Ifeanyi Okolie
Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, has warned operators of Self Regulatory Organizations ( SROs) such as hotel owners, car dealers, casino operators, lawyers, real estate operators, tax consultants among others, who are part of the Designated Non- Financial Institutions, DNFIs to resist attempts by corrupt individuals to use them in laundering proceeds of financial crimes.
Waziri gave the warning over the week at the opening ceremony of a two-day stakeholder’s seminar on Anti- Money Laundering, AML and Countering Terrorist Financing, CFT, held at the Commission’s Research and Training Institute (TRI) Karu, Abuja .
The EFCC boss who was represented by the Commission’s head of training, Ayo Olowonihi, expressed her gratitude to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, for its role in fighting the menace of money laundering through the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering, SCUML,and regretted that more illegal funds are now being laundered through the SROs because of the stringent regime in the financial sector.
“We need to look seriously at this sector because services and consultancy are being rendered through it and it is indeed very crucial in our economy”, she stated. Waziri noted that the summit was timely and urged participants to take the sessions seriously so that they won’t have to be in the Commission’s bad book.
Speaking while declaring the event open, the Minister of Commerce and Industry, Senator Jubrin Martins Kuye who was represented by Mr. Wuese Al, expressed optimism that the summit would deepen the commitment of all stakeholders in curtailing money laundering and other unethical practices.
He commended SCUML and EFCC for their roles in setting up the National Council of DNFIs stating that SCUML has been successful in its responsibility in regulating, supervising and monitoring the DNFIs, especially the Self Regulatory Organizations such as hotel owners, car dealers, casino operators, lawyers, real estate operators, tax consultants and others.
While welcoming the participants, Chairman of the National Advisory Council of DNFIs, Mr. Herbert Agbebiyi, disclosed that his council which is a private/public partnership, was made up of Non-Governmental Organisations, Law Enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies.
He stated that some of the objectives of the seminar are to identify challenges militating against compliance by SROs, provide opportunities to deliberate on measures to help the operators and formulate strategies in dealing with quarks, among others.
Thanking participants and other stakeholders for their efforts and presence at the event, Mr. Theophilus Akinbo, Director of SCUML, said that whatever has been achieved through the National Advisory Council on DNFIs was based on collective efforts by all those involved from both the private and public sector.
He particularly thanked some international organizations especially the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering, GIABA, DFID, EFCC, Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry for their efforts in making SCUML effective.
Akinbo who disclosed that statutorily, his organization is under the Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said SCUML operates under the EFCC which is the national coordinator of all regulatory agencies. Good will messages were received from representative of the GIABA Director, Dr. Shehu Abdullahi, Mr. Buno Nduka and Mr. George Etomi who is the Vice Chairman of the National Advisory Council, representing the NBA President, Mr. Joseph Dawodu .
They all identified with the initiative saying that every organization should formulate measures to punish offenders.