By Ayo Fadimu
Bureaux de Change (BDC) operators under the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) are preparing for the annual evaluation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) team visiting the country soon.
Speaking to financial journalists ahead of the FATF visit to Nigeria, ABCON President, Alhaji (Dr.) Aminu Gwadabe, said BDCs are getting ready to receive the FATF team. He said that ABCON, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is organizing a sensitization workshop for over 4,500 licenced BDCs in the country.
He said the workshop, which will hold in the six geopolitical zones across the country, will take off in the next one week.
He added that the BDCs will be trained on the obligation of registering and filling reports on the NFIU goAML -Anti-Money Laundering portal.
Gwadabe, said the anti-money laundering training is intended to familiarize BDC operators with the process of money laundering – the criminal business used to disguise the true origin and ownership of illegal cash – and the laws that make it a crime.
He said that money laundering and terrorist financing pose not only a threat, but are enormous threats and challenges to the economy, security, and social life in Nigeria, the region and globally.
Gwadabe said that the training was also meant to help BDCs maintain minimum standard of record keeping and increasing level of investors confidence for the economy.
The training, the ABCON boss added, will create awareness on the need to check money laundering and terrorist financing; ensure that BDCs are not used to launder funds by Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). It will also upscale BDCs’ compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) for Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria Regulations.
Gwadabe said the visit became necessary after the FATF team in February, named Nigeria in a proposed European Union blacklist of nations seen as posing a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering.
The criteria used to blacklist countries include low sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency over the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.
Gwadabe said visit by the FATF team will enable it see new efforts by the country to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
He said that as the global body that sets standard for AML/CFT efforts, the FATF team will assess banks and other financial institutions compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.
He said like other previous evaluations for the country, the FATF team will carry out checks at the branches of selected banks and BDCs across the country, adding that compliance at the airports and land borders may also come under their scrutiny.
Gwadabe said Nigeria has largely addressed its action plan by enacting legislation to adequately criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing, implementing procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets, ensuring that customer due diligence requirements apply to all financial instructions.
He said Nigeria has been one of the regional champions mentoring other member states in the development of their AML/CFT systems adding that the full digitization of Nigeria BDCs operations is a boost for financial system stability and Nigeria’s standing on the regular FATF assessment for Nigeria.