By Ralph Chris-Izokpu
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center CISLAC, has said that Nigeria loses vast amounts of money of around 17 bllllon dollars per year.
This was disclosed by the Executive Director of CISLAC Auwal Ibrahim Musa on Wednesday in Abuja, at a two day conference organised by CISLAC, for stakeholders in the financial sector.
The two day conference is, titled “Exploring New Frontiers in Nigeria’s Anti-Money Laundering Regime through Effective Use of Data”, seeks to discuss practical measures to reduce money laundering and illicit financial outflows.
The executive director of CISLAC Auwal Ibrahim Musa in his welcome address said, due to the illicit financial outflows, “Nigeria loses vast amounts of money around 17 bllllon dollars per year according to credible sources to money laundering out of the country.
Musa stated that, “certain factors such as the growth in volume of financlal transactions across borders, greater integration of world economies, frequently expanding or changing rules to manage new realities, have greatly increased the spate and sophistication of money launderlng worldwide and also in Nigeria.
“ln Nigeria, the anti-money laundering regime has evolved remarkably in all its operations. Legal frameworks are being put in place and institutions are charged wlth mandates to implement them. The number of prosecutions for financial crimes hit an all-time high in Nigeria in 2019 and the financial intelligence unit, having been made autonomous has been positioned to deliver on its mandate.
However, it is concerning that prosecutions and convictions arising from suspicious transactions reports are abysmally low.
Suspicious transactions reports are based on automated system run by financial and non-financial Institutions to self-report to authorltles, financlal transactlons that are considered suspicious”
Speaking further he said, “Nigeria has produced many mlnd-blowlng scandals where huge amounts stolen from the Impoverished Citizens are laundered abroad. Let us not forget that money laundering and Illicit financial flows impact polltlcs. Rampant corruption that we see in our political parties‘ system uses profits and is enabled from moneys laundered from organized crime such as embezzlement, smuggling, tax evasion.
In connection to this, I would Iike to bring up the role of the private sector. Unfortunately, banks, accounting companies, retail agents and others are enablers of this mass looting. Most of them are based in the supposedly ’corrupt-free’ world to serve criminal and corrupt elements. Panama Papers, Angola leaks, Nigerian business dealings and ail other mass financial frauds are powered by highly profitabie private enablers, who have to be held responsible for their crimes instead to be rewarded with outrages profits and respected careers.
“CISLAC and Transparency international have highlighted some of money laundering and illicit financial flows problems over the years through research, information sharing, capacity buriding and effective collaborations. We have championed for accountability and transparency from the government and sensitized citizens on their roles and responsibilities in this campaign. it is in that vein that we have organized this event to support both state and non-state actors in their quest to tackle all forms of corruption and money laundering”, he stated.
“we are here to discuss with various stakeholders, appraise the performance of the anti-money laundering watch dogs, understand our gaps and proffer sector specrfic solutions on how data and non-traditional approaches can facelift our anti-money laundering operations. Adding that, “we know that our work is a continuum; consists of many stakeholders and may not immediately yield results.
Yet we feel there is constant need to discuss the workability of our approaches, devise new strategies where it is needed and get the opinions of concerned parties.
The Executive Director of CISLAC said, “we will like to clarify that this is not a session to apportion blames or point fingers.
Rather, it is a problem solving conference and we hope to draw up recommendations that can suit our realities after the end. Adding, the evaluation and lessons we hope to share by this meeting are extremely important to all who are committed to fighting money laundering and indeed all other forms of Corruption.