EU has removed Nigeria from list of high-risk countries in money laundering and terrorism financing

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Many months after being severed from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to function more independently, the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, is set to begin operations in earnest come April 1, 2019, with a tough stance against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Similarly, the NFIU has indicated that all known routes through which politically exposed persons and public officers use in perpetrating corruption will be effectively checked through the creation of a beneficial ownership database to track their financial transactions. The NFIU gave the indication in a first public statement released by its Acting Chief Media Analyst, Ahmed Dikko, and made available to Vanguard in Abuja on Monday.

Beyond its takeoff announcement, the NFIU indicated that Nigeria’s recent listing by the European Union as a High-Risk Third Country with deficiencies in money laundering and terrorist financing controls had been withdrawn.

The NFIU said: “Significant measures to be implemented by the NFIU in the near future will include full implementation of the National Sanctions regime to all detected areas of vulnerabilities within our systems. Other areas include issuing guidelines; advisories etc. that will affect cash transactions processes of local, state, federal governments and bureau de change etc.

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“The Unit will also release new reporting requirements on suspicious transactions for terrorism-prone areas and on suspects taken into custody in violent and flashpoint communities to check vices of terrorism, the proliferation of small arms, kidnapping, ethnic violence, cattle rustlings etc. with the view to providing credible intelligence for law enforcement and national security.

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“Efforts of the Federal Government to set up the beneficial ownership database for politically exposed persons and public servants will be completed and expanded to capture additional necessary areas. The new process which includes a new approach to analysing compliance in public account expenditures will almost shut down corruption from the way we used to know and new transparency methods will come to governance. N264.8m gratification: Court convicts two INEC officials

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“The main focus of the NFIU will be to fight all crimes through money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation of weapons real-time analyses in the entire country.

Reacting to the listing of Nigeria among high-risk nations in money laundering and terrorism financing, NFIU said, “We are also using this medium to respond to enquiries about the current position of the EU’s recent listing of Nigeria as High-Risk Third Country with deficiencies in money laundering and terrorist financing controls.

“The listing was officially withdrawn by the Council of Europe on 5th March 2019 while giving room for the European Commission and the European Parliament to align their positions. The Nigeria government engaged the E.U authorities through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the NFIU to reach an understanding,” the agency said.

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