Executive Money Laundering: $100 Million Seized at Airports in 2012

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About $100m or N15.5bn has been intercepted at Nigerian airports, according to the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Lamorde.

He also disclosed that the commission had filed 353 cases at various courts, with 53 convictions secured so far.

Lamorde made these remarks while speaking at the 2012 International Anti-Corruption Day, with the theme “ACT…Help Detect Corruption Risks Today”, organized by the Inter-Agency Task Team, which is an umbrella organization of anti-corruption agencies.

Lamorde said that the amount intercepted was physical cash taken out through the airports, not legitimate cash transfers through financial institutions.

The Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwajuren disclosed in a statement that N14bn being couriered out of the country had been intercepted at the nation’s airports between January and August.

This, he said, is in addition to the operation of a joint patrol between the EFCC and Nigerian Customs officers in a Special Task Force which begun in September 2012 and yielded the arrest of an illegal cash courier with $9million.

Lamorde cited the example of a cash courier who was arrested at the airport attempting to fly out with $7m cash stuffed in a briefcase.

He blamed this criminal activity of money laundering on the greed, callousness and meanness of the people.

He was quoted in the statement as saying, “Corruption is one of the reasons Nigeria has not been able to make progress, socially, politically and economically and we have all agreed that corruption cannot be sustained in Nigeria, all of us must come together to fight corruption.”

The EFCC chairman also called for a review in the funding of anti-corruption agencies and their operating legislations.

He explained that between January and December 2012, the Commission had filed 353 cases at various courts across the country and had been able to secure 53 convictions.

He called for a special court to prosecute court cases due to the slow pace of trial of corruption cases at present.

This, he blamed, on the criminal procedure in the country and not on the judiciary as most are wont to do.

“Somebody cannot steal from you and expect that the law should protect him against you the victim of his crime. Something has to be done. I pray that the new leadership of the judiciary will be able to do something,” he said, adding that judges are always either transferred or witnesses die, which slows the cases down for which the anti-corruption agency is unduly blamed.

“Let cases not last forever. If you think there is no case, discharge the person. But where the person has a case to answer, let it be concluded quickly.”

The IATT Chairman, Mr Ledum Mitee, identified some reasons why the fight against corruption is stagnant, among which are weak institutional capacity in anti-corruption agencies; funding and coordination; failure of leadership at all levels to genuinely walk the talk and walk the walk and the need for a more concerted approach in ensuring synergy among the anti-corruption agencies.

He said anti-corruption in Nigeria had performed poorly.

Mitee said: “However, we cannot continue on this path. We must steer the ship aright. With the establishment of the Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT), synergy is being built among the anti-corruption agencies; the era of individual turf is waning, giving room for possible joint investigations and prosecutions which in turn is expected to result in effective sanctions and prevention of corruption.”

Mitee also put forward another way in which corruption could be collectively and systematically addressed “by adopting a Holistic National Strategy to Combat Corruption. And I understand that the IATT has developed a draft National Strategy document. This document is most encouraging and should be given every push for adoption by the Federal Government.”

The Herald NG is a leading newspaper in Nigeria at the forefront of the digital revolution.

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