Lawmakers back Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to tackle money laundering

Nigerian lawmakers have passed a bill aimed at helping the intelligence unit tackle money laundering and funding for terrorism.

After many months of international pressure, members of Nigeria’s House of Representatives have passed a bill to back the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to tackle money laundering and financial corrupt practices.

The lawmakers on Tuesday, March 6, 2018, passed a bill aimed at helping the intelligence unit tackle money laundering and funding for terrorism.

In the same vein, the Nigerian Senate is expected to approve the bill on Wednesday, March 7, 2018.

The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, which until now has operated under Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, will now act as an independent body that can share information with similar agencies abroad.

Prior to the lawmakers actions, a body of 155 Financial Intelligence Units across the world, Egmont Group, had insisted the unit should be made independent.

The Egmont had threatened to delist Nigeria if the country fails to arm the unit with independence so as to enable the unit to deal with financial crimes more effectively.

The Group further insisted that failure to make the unit legally independent would have led to financial transactions from Nigeria including funds transfer and credit cards would have been subject to special controls, banking sources said.

In In July, 2017, the Egmont Group suspended the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) at its 24th plenary of the Heads of the FIUs in Macao.

The group pointed out that NFIU was suspended because the EFCC, under which the NFIU was situated, was leaking sensitive information to the media.

The Egmont Group also accused the EFCC of blackmailing individuals with the confidential intelligence at its disposal.

“The Heads of FIU made a decision, by consensus, to suspend the membership status of the NFIU, Nigeria, following repeated failures on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information, specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges, as well as concerns on the legal basis and clarity of the NFIU’s independence from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The measure will remain in force until immediate corrective actions are implemented,” the group said in a statement.

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