The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has taken necessary steps to ensure that the Nigerian banking sector is not used to launder money in or out of the country or for any other form of illegal activities.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said this on Monday in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the Regional Course on “Combating Money Laundering and other Financial Crimes”.
It was organised by the West African Institution for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) with participants from the Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and law enforcement agencies of Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana and Liberia.
The event also saw the signing of a 1.3 million dollars agreement between the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and WAIFEM to assist the later expand its scope of activities within the next 18 months.
Emefiele, represented by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, CBN, Mr Kelvin Amugo, said the CBN was working closely with banks to ensure that ill gotten-gains-of crime were not legitimise using the financial sector.
“One of the core functions of the CBN is to promote a sound and stable financial system in Nigeria and combat money laundering to ensure that the financial system is safe and steady.
“Because of that, we have embarked on a number of initiatives.
“We have issued circulars to Security Compliance Officers at banks; we have also issued circulars on the importance of KYC (Know Your Customer) before any account is opened.
“Also, the recent BVN is all geared towards ensuring that the financial system is stable, to make sure that depositors in the banks are known depositors and not those that will use the banking system as a platform to carryout illegal activities,’’ he said.
Emefiele said that the CBN had supported the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Financial Intelligence Unit, as strategic to fighting the menace.
He said that Nigeria had also applied for membership of Financial Action Task Force on Money (FATF), which is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 by the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering.
He said that the FATF had already scheduled a visit to Nigeria later in the year as part of its procedure prior to admitting the country.
Also, the Director General, WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said that financial system stability was a major prerequisite for economic growth and development.
“Money laundering is a key threat to financial stability in any economy, especially to small and fragile economies in our sub-region.
“A number of predicate offences for money laundering are common in our region and these include drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking and counterfeit, to name a few,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, ACBF, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, said that for the past 15 years, the foundation had supported WAIFEM with about 8 million dollars.
“The Purpose of the 1.3 million dollars grant being offered to the institute is to enable WAIFEM to consolidate and expand the scope of its activities within the next 18 months.
“The support to WAIFEM is coming at a time when economies of countries in the sub-region continue to face shocks and dislocations in policy.
“Countries in the region continue to face the perennial problem of inadequate infrastructure, debt overhang and declining commodity prices.
“In the face of these challenges, the only option is to develop the required capacity to produce versatile cadre of experts with ability to robustly respond to emerging challenges with the appropriate policy measures,’’ he said. (NAN)