$2.1b arms cash: EFCC, NFIU probe six BDCs

By The Citizen

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) are investigating six bureaux de change (BDC) operators involved in converting the $2.1 billion arms cash to naira, The Nation has learnt.

The Chairman of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, who disclosed this in a telephone conversation, said the group is already monitoring the outcome of the probe to decide sanctions for the unnamed operators.

He said: 'Some of the persons involved in the transactions allegedly exchanged the dollar to naira through the BDC operators. We understand about six operators are involved and we are monitoring the outcome of the investing closely'.

He said both the EFCC and NFIU are looking at possibility of holding retreat with the BDCs to educate them more on how to better report illicit financial flow and money laundering matters.

Gwadabe said ABCON has a zero tolerance for non-compliance with regulatory requirement and for unethical conduct amongst its members. He said the group created the office of Compliance Officer in its National Secretariat and in all its zonal offices to ensure its members work within the laws.

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Each of the affected BDCs, he said, exchanged about $350 million, with minimal or no documentation, contrary to regulatory guidelines.

Such act runs contrary to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

For instance, Section 29 of the CBN AML/CFT Regulations, 2013 (as amended) requires financial institutions to maintain all necessary records on transactions, both domestic and international for at least five years after completion of the transactions or such longer period as may be required by the CBN and Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), provided that this requirement shall apply regardless of whether the account or business relationship is on-going or has been terminated.

According to the CBN, financial institutions are expected to maintain records of the identification data, accounts files and business correspondence for at least five years after the termination of an account or business relationship or such longer period as may be required by the CBN and NFIU on a timely basis.

She said that financial institutions are required to forward their AML/CFT Compliance Manual to the CBN for off-site review of the document as well as carry out enhanced customer due diligence for high risk customers and effective Know Your Customer (KYC) processes.

The acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, had said no BDC operator involved in the arms deals will be spared. He asked the operators to have a documentation of their members to enable anti-graft agencies to track down the fraudulent ones. The Nation