The Federal Government on Saturday called on countries in the West African sub-region to treat money laundering and other illicit financial crimes with zero tolerance.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the call at the opening of the 18th Ministerial Committee Meeting of the Intergovernmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa in Abuja.
Osinbajo said that governments in the sub-region had “for long affirmed our commitment to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing”.
The vice president reiterated that criminal syndicates had utilised technologies to bypass “conventional financial systems checkpoints and safeguards”, making them “ahead of government and the law”.
He said that it was mandatory governments to take “lethal action” against illicit financial crimes to curb corruption and terrorism and also enhance development.
“What this means is that we are dealing with an existential threat; it is either we wipe it out or it wipes us out.
“This should spur us to treat money laundering and other financial crimes with zero tolerance; we must now back this intent with forceful action and visible results.
“While we acknowledge the steps we have taken individually and collectively in recent years, we cannot afford complacency at this time.
“It is actually the moment for us to redouble our efforts to show up the political will required to apply and implement the laws and framework that we have worked so hard to develop.
He further urge countries to enhance collaboration in the areas of information sharing and develop mutual trust for one another.
“This means that on the one hand we should rise above the temptations of secretiveness and mutual suspicion and on the other hand we must do everything in our power to sustain trust and confidence.
He said this could be done by safeguarding every piece of information being shared across national databases.
“We must also strive to work beyond barriers imposed by the differences in our various legal systems, bearing in mind that criminals that we are tackling have never allowed themselves to be held back by these obstacles.”
He also called for enhanced international collaboration to tackle the menace of illicit financial crimes in the sub-region.