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GIABA (Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa) has started a three-day training for BDC (Bureau De Change) operators in AML/CFT compliance.
GIABA has started three-day training for effective compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing laws. The Director General of GIABA, Mr Edwin W. Harris, stated that the currency exchange sector has remained vulnerable to illicit activities, as Nigeria’s Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) mentioned 4798 registered forex dealers with an asset base of $469734000U. He mentioned limited awareness of money laundering and terrorism financing, attendant risks, and poor implementation of preventive measures as the challenges confronting the sector.
Dr Jeffrey Isima, the acting director of Evaluation and Compliance, stated that the primary focus of the workshop is to provide a platform where participants can share experiences and foster cooperation for effective AML/CFT implementation. He stated, “Specifically, the workshop seeks to raise awareness, develop a common understanding among stakeholders and enhance the capacity of participants on ML/TF issues within the foreign exchange bureau sector.”
“It also seeks to enhance risk-based supervision of the sector, provide a platform for sharing of experiences and good practices on AML/CFT issues as well as promote cooperation, coordination and engagement among relevant competent authorities, self-regulatory authority (ABCON) and foreign exchange operators on how to effectively implement AML/CFT preventive measures.”
The Director General expressed concerns about the preponderance of black market operators and the fact that several transactions are cash-based constitute a serious ML/TF risk.
“These findings are consistent with the outcomes of a typology study on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing through the Informal and Illegal Currency Exchange Service Providers in West Africa published by GIABA in 2020.”
“The study found the sector vulnerable to ML/TF and concluded that money laundering through foreign currency exchange operations is a very efficient way of disguising the true origin of illegal proceeds and their integration into the legal financial system in the region.”
“The galloping inflation that the world economy is experiencing as well as the depreciation of the Naira, has led to greater demand for international currencies, in particular the US Dollar.”
The Director General called on the national stakeholders to cooperate with the compliance of the currency exchange sector with acceptable global AML/CFT preventive measures.
The President of Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, commended GIABA for its recent training. He insisted that crime prevention requires a step-by-step approach including knowledge and information dissemination. According to Gwadabe, the association comprised all licensed BDC working in line with the government against money laundering and terrorism financing.
He stated, “As an association, we support any major reforms that will enhance the capacity of members. It is about working the theory, working the talk. We are moving a step forward from theory to effectiveness. That is the purpose of this workshop, and we have members from all six Geo-Political Zones of the country. We are willing to learn, unlearn and relearn.”