By Chimezie Godfrey
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), in collaboration with ICPC, and other CSOs, have called on the Presidency to assent to the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), to facilitate establishment of a beneficial ownership register, that is accessible to the public by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
This is contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the 3rd Anti-Money Laundering Conference with the theme, “Exploring New Frontiers in Nigeria’s Ant-Money laundering Regime Through Effective Use of Data” organized by CISLAC, Public Sector, Private Sector and Civil Society Organizations, in Abuja recently.
The group lamented that Money launderers and their enablers in and outside of Nigeria trade with impunity and without consequences.
According to the Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani, it is observed that Money laundering is a process that is complex and complicated, adding that it causes enormous economic damage and is a major impediment to attain the SDGs and other Nigerian socio-economic targets.
He revealed that the Bureau de Change operators are crucial in reporting formal and informal cash transactions, including diaspora remittances, which account for large financial inflow to Nigeria. Nigeria Central Bank and other dedicated institutions are urgently required to regulate the sector.
Rafsanjani revealed that Nigeria contributes with over 17 billion USD to the largest share of illicit financial flows in Africa, adding that suspicious financial transactions are increasingly detected but not adequately investigated.
Considering these critical observations among many others, CISLAC and its partners recommended that there should be improved national cooperation and coordination among both state and non-state actors in fighting anti-money laundering.
“The National Assembly shall prioritize the passage of all pending bills that will catalyze the anti-money laundering campaign especially the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA). The President should expatiate the enactment of this crucial legislation without delays;
“The Central Bank of Nigeria must improve its financial and regulatory oversight in combating money laundering and corruption through banks.
“The conversion of usable information into credible intelligence should be improved by the anticorruption agencies. The rate of investigations, convictions and asset confiscation on credible AML evidence must be improved and made public.
“The chain of the Criminal Justice system (detection, investigation, prosecution and conviction) should be improved upon by relevant agencies, especially the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Nigeria Police Force/ Interpol and Defence Intelligence.
“We are calling on the Presidency to assent to the amended Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) legislation to facilitate establishment of a beneficial Ownership register accessible to the public by the Corporate Affairs Commission.
“Declaration of assets owned by senior officials and Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) as required by the Code of Conduct Act must be enhanced, data made public and suspicious wealth investigated by the law enforcement,” They stated.
Rafsanjani pointed out that there should be promotion of transparency and the involvement of civil society groups and citizens’ participation in the utilization and management of confiscated and seized assets.
He called on the National Assembly must assert greater supervision and control over the financial institutions and their oversight institutions including the anti-corruption agencies to investigate and to reduce the volume of illicit financial flows and their damage to the national development.
The communiqué was sign by Independent Corrupt practices and other related offences Commission, Corporate Affairs Commission, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML), Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Code of Conduct Bureau, Inter-Governmental Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, and Securities and Exchange Commission.
Others are Center for Democracy and Development, Society for Women and Girls Empowerment, Publish What you pay Nigeria, DataPro, Compliance Institute, Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria, African Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANNEJ), Trade Network Initiative, BudgIT, Zero Corruption Coalition, Social Action , Spaces for Change and Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)/ Transparency International.