The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, yesterday, threatened to sanction financial institutions in the country, following their non-compliance with certain anti-money laundering provisions.
Speaking at a regional training for financial and regulatory institutions on the revised Financial Action Task Force recommendations, organised by the the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA, Ms. Juliet Ibekaku, Director, NFIU and GIABA National Correspondent of Nigeria, said it has received a number of reports from financial institutions in the country, and that the reports are not impressive.
According to Ibekaku, who was represented by Mr. Daniel Iseye of the Financial Institution Training Centre, FITC, this calls for urgent improvement as the NFIU will not hesitate to recommend sanctions within the provisions of extant laws.
He noted that meting appropriate sanctions to defaulting institutions is the only way to ensure deterrence and to protect Nigeria's financial system.
She emphasised the need for Nigeria's financial system to be safeguarded from criminals, so as to attract the much needed foreign direct investments that will help grow the economy.
She said, "All hands must be on deck to ensure that the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism, AML/CFT, programme in Nigeria is evaluated favourably both in terms of policy frameworks and effectiveness - given that effectiveness is now a cardinal principle in FATF mutual evaluation process.
"The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit will continue to render full support for initiatives and programmes designed to enhance best practices and increase capacity in the area of AML/CFT in Nigeria."
Also speaking, Mr. Shehu Abdullahi, Director General, GIABA, represented by Mr. Buno Nduka, Director, Programmes and Projects, disclosed that financial institutions in Nigeria and other West African nations are performing poorly with regards to compliance to AML/CFT standards, adding that this is adversely affecting efforts to tackle money laundering and financing of terrorism activities in the region.