The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has taken necessary steps to prevent the Nigerian banking sector from being used to launder money and other illegal activities.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, gave the assurance at the opening of the Regional Course on “Combatting Money Laundering and other Financial Crimes’’ on Monday in Abuja.
The course, organised by the West African Institution for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), drew participants from central banks, the ministry of finance and law enforcement agencies of Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana and Liberia.
The event also featured 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 in the next 18 months.
Emefiele was represented by the CBN’s Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Mr Kelvin Amugo.
He said the apex bank was working closely with operators in the banking sector to ensure that ill-gotten-gains of crime were not legitimised through the financial sector.
“One of the core functions of the CBN is to promote a stable financial system in Nigeria and combat money laundering to ensure the financial system is safe and solid.
“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,’’ he said.
According to him, the recent BVN is geared towards ensuring that the financial system is stable and to ensure that depositors in the banks are known.
He added that the BVN was also aimed to prevent those that will use the banking system as a platform to carryout illegal activities.
Emefiele said that the apex bank had supported the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Financial Intelligent Unit, which were strategic to fighting the menace.
He said that Nigeria had also applied for membership of the Financial Action Task Force on Money (FATF).
According to him, FATF is an intergovernmental organisation, founded in 1989 by the G7, to develop policies to combat money laundering.
He said that the task force had already scheduled a visit to Nigeria later in the year as part of its procedure, prior to admitting the country.
Also speaking, the Director General, WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said the 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 among others,’’ Ekpo said.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary, ACBF, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, said that in the last 15 years, the foundation had supported WAIFEM with about eight million dollars.
Nnadozie said ACBF also, has offered 1.3 million dollars grants to the institute to enable it consolidate and expand the scope of its activities in 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 problems 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 respond to emerging challenges with the appropriate policy measures,’’ he said.