By Peter Egwuatu, Assistant Business Editor
The President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, in this interview, speaks on money laundering, terrorist financing and freezing of terrorist assets among other issues.
What is ABCON doing in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing?
ABCON has been intensifying its commitment to fighting Money Laundering, M/L, and Terrorist Financing, T/F, by ensuring that its members comply with regulations in doing their business. We are taking the issue of compliance with regulations locally and globally. ABCON has through long years of training and guidance, strengthened the Bureaux de Change (BDCs) sector and helped operators understand the gains of compliance to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) rules.
As the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) prepares to visit Nigeria in September this year, how ready are your members for the visit?
Our members are willing and ready to receive and assist the team.
The BDCs operators are conversant with the threats and dangers posed by Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in Nigeria, Africa and globally. The operators have therefore adopted a concerted strategy to tackle the menace. The current level of awareness on the ills of money laundering and terrorist financing is as a result of long years of training and capacity building provided by ABCON under my leadership.
The BDCs will welcome the FATF Mutual Evaluation team to Nigeria. The FATF assessment was designed to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the laws, regulations and other measures required to ascertain the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime. The mutual evaluation will equally provide information on the progress made by Nigeria.
What can you say about the money being siphoned from Africa to other continents and what is your association doing to help the government in curbing this act?
With over $30.4 billion being ferried out of Africa annually, ABCON is intensifying its commitment to fighting money laundering and terrorist financing by ensuring that its members comply with regulations in doing their business. ABCON is already equipping over 4,500 BDCs with the right technology and skills to tackle illicit financial flows within the country. The BDCs meet regularly with regulators, government agencies/officials and experts to analyse, monitor and identify strategies for the effective implementation of anti-money laundering measures. ABCON has established itself as a key player in the BDC industry.
What can you say about your upcoming collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria ,CBN, in the area of money laundering?
ABCON, in collaboration with the CBN, is organising a sensitisation workshop for over 4,500 licensed BDCs in Nigeria. The workshop will hold in the six geopolitical zones. The global body will assess banks and other financial institutions’ compliance with the AML/CFT measures. Like other previous evaluations for Nigeria, the FATF team will carry out checks at the branches of selected banks and BDCs across the country. The compliance at the airports and land borders may also come under their scrutiny.
How strong is the legislation on anti-money laundering in the country?
Nigeria, which has been one of the regional champions is mentoring other member states in the development of their AML/CFT systems. It has largely addressed its action plan by enacting legislation to criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing. The country is also implementing procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets.