By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government has commenced an assessment of the financial sector to determine the threats and vulnerabilities of the country to money laundering and terrorism financing.
Speaking at a regional training programme for financial and regulatory institutions on the revised Financial Action Task Force recommendations, organized by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA, Ms. Juliet Ibekaku, Director, NFIU and GIABA National Correspondent of Nigeria, said on its conclusion, the National Risk Assessment, NRA, on money laundering and terrorism financing threats and vulnerabilities, will ensure that weaknesses in Nigeria’s AML/CFT regime are brought to light and effective policies and measures taken to address such deficiencies.
Ibebaku, who was represented by Mr. Daniel Iseye, an official of the NFIU, the assessment is done through the collaborative efforts of the NFIU and other stakeholder institutions, and in compliance with Recommendation 1 of the revised standards.
She lamented the recent sanctions meted out to an international subsidiary of a Nigerian bank, saying such penal actions by a foreign country on a Nigeria bank do not bode well for the image and rating of Nigeria.
According to her, this becomes particularly troubling considering the forthcoming FATF Regional Review Group on-site visit to Nigeria.
She said, “The laws and regulations have placed very important obligations on reporting entities which include reporting requirements under Sections 6 &10 of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, MLPA 2011. Under Section 9 of the MLPA 2011 as amended, reporting entities must train employees, and build strong Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) infrastructure in their systems.”
“Customer due diligence is very vital for an effective AML/CFT regime in the country, accordingly, Section 3 of the MLPA as amended has expanded the requirements on the implementation of customer due diligence policies by reporting entities.
“Juxtaposing all of these obligations are provisions on protection for reporting in good faith, requirement for confidentiality and a plethora of penalties for failure to act in the interest of public good. These penalties range from monetary fines, terms of imprisonment or even revocation of licenses.
“The implication of not having a strict CDD programme is huge as we saw recently in the monetary sanction handed down on GTbank UK a subsidiary of GTbank Nigeria.”
Continuing, she said, “We are glad to note that all sector regulators are reviewing their AML/CFT regulations in line with the recent amendments in the MLPA 2011 and TPA 2011 and it is hoped that these updated regulations would be of immense value to reporting entities.”