The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML) has commenced issuance of certificates to applicants.
According to a statement by the commission’s Head of Media and Publicity, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Ilorin, the SCUML is a statutory responsibility of the EFCC under the new-fangled Money Laundering Act, 2022. “The EFCC is delighted to inform the general public that the SCUML has commenced issuance of certificates to every successful applicant.
“It would be recalled that issuance of certificates was suspended as an administrative measure to bring SCUML into alignment with its new regulatory framework, environment and obligations.
“Interested applicants can come with their application for the new certificates.
“The EFCC wishes to assure the public of a more professional and efficient SCUML,” the statement read in part.
The EFCC has tasked motor dealers to ensure compliance with regulations requiring registration and certification of their businesses by the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML).
Its Ilorin Zonal Commander, Mr Michael Nzekwe, said this when members of Kwara Motor Dealers Association, led by its President, Alhaji Ahmed Abdul, visited the office on Wednesday in Ilorin.
Nzekwe said apart from enforcing compliance with SCUML regulations, the EFCC under the new Money Laundering Act (MLA), had legal responsibility in safeguarding the investment of stakeholders in the Non-Designated Financial Institutions (NDFI) from the activities of fraudsters.
He further said that under the new MLA, SCUML was now under the EFCC, adding that part of its responsibilities was to ensure compliance of NDFIs including but not limited to car dealers, jewelry dealers, real estate managers, hoteliers and other stakeholders with the provisions of the law.
“If we can checkmate the problems associated with laundering of proceeds of crime in this country, corruption and crime rate will reduce drastically.
“I use this opportunity to urge members of the association to support the commission in its sustained fight against money laundering and terrorism financing in Nigeria.
“There is need for you to be very wary in your businesses, so as not to run foul of the law because we will go all out to enforce the laws to letters,” he said.
The zonal commander urged members of the association to ensure due diligence in the conduct of their businesses.
He warned that negligence or non-compliance would attract sanctions, as ignorance is no excuse under the law.
In his response, Abdul appreciated the zonal commander for the warm reception accorded his members and the explanations given them on the activities of SCUML.
Abdul pledged the unalloyed support of the association to the EFCC’s anti-graft fight.
He tasked the agency to sensitise members of the association across the 16 local government areas of the state, so that they could also be better informed about SCUML and what was expected of them under the law.
The Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML) says it has concluded procurement process for the production of new certificates for applicants.
Mr Wilson Uwujaren, the Head of Media and Publicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said this in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.
Uwujaren said successful applicants would soon begin to receive notification to collect their certificates adding that, machinery had been set in motion to ensure that the backlog was cleared with dispatch.
He said the clarification was to guide the public in understanding the situations, relating to SCUML certificates.
According to him, the delay is purely administrative and has nothing to do with inefficiency as imputed in some quarters.
“SCUML empathises with genuine applicants for the difficulties of the past few days.
“All arrangements have been made to ensure that the process is returned to the established order of prompt and excellent service delivery,” he said.
Uwujaren said SCUML was aware of the difficulties currently being experienced by successful applicants for its certificate.
He said the development was caused by the suspension of the issuance of certificates to successful applicants by the SCUML.
According to him, the move is an administrative measure designed to bring the agency to full compliance with its statutory responsibilities and obligations under the new Money laundering Act, 2022.
He said the law, fundamentally, altered the existing regulatory framework and substantially, invalidates the certificates issued by SCUML.
“The law did not reflect SCUML new status as an agency fully domiciled in the EFCC.
“It therefore, became imperative to suspend the issuance of the old certificates until a new one that takes into account the new regulatory environment is printed.
“Being a security document, there are processes involved in its new printing,” he added.
A Federal High Court, FHC, Abuja, on Thursday issued an arrest warrant against an Irishman, Neil Murray, for his involvement in the alleged Process and Industrial Development Limited, P&ID scandal.
Judge Ahmed Mohammed issued the order, following an ex parte petition brought by counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Bala Sanga.
Mr Sanga told the court that the ex parte petition, noted: FHC / ABJ / CR / 143/2020 dated August 20 and filed on August 25, was filed in accordance with Articles 3, 35, 36 and 37 of the Administration of criminal justice. Justice Act, ACJA, 2015, and by virtue of the inherent power of the court.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that while the Federal Republic of Nigeria, through the EFCC, is the Claimant, Mr. Murray is the Respondent.
NAN also reports that Murray, an employee of P&ID, is also a director of Lurgi Consult Ltd., an associated company of P&ID.
Counsel said the respondent Murray, who is on the run, is named in counts one through eight of criminal charge number: FHC / ABJ / CR / 143/2020 in court in which a P&ID director, James Nolan, is currently on trial standing.
Sanga therefore applied to the court for an arrest warrant against Murray to be brought to court and tried on the aforementioned criminal charge.
He cited three grounds on which the complaint was brought.
"That this Honorable Court has statutory powers under the provisions of Sections 3, 35, 36 and 37 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to grant requested prayers
“That the Respondent is named in Counts 1 to 8 of Criminal Charge No .: FHC / ABJ / CR / 143/2020 and indicated as being on the run.
"That the evidence in support of Charge No .: FHC / ABJ / CR / 143/2020 disclose prima facie evidence against the Respondent, among others," he said.
The EFCC lawyer also asked the court to issue an arrest warrant for Nolan, following his absence in court.
But the judge refused to grant the request since there was no evidence that the notice of hearing for Thursday's proceedings had been served on Nolan.
Judge Mohammed, who granted the request for an arrest warrant against Murray, adjourned the case until January 25, 2022, for the trial to continue.
NAN reports that Mr Nolan, along with two other people, was also brought to justice on October 18 on an amended count of 32 bordering on money laundering before FHC Judge Donatus Okorowo.
Although Nolan and two companies; Goidel Resources Limited, a named non-financial institution, DNFI and ICIL Limited were brought to justice again, his co-accused, Adam Quinn, was on the run.
NAN reports that an alleged accomplice to the scandal, a Nigerian, Ms Grace Taiga, former director of legal services at the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, is also on trial before Judge Obiora Egwuatu of the same tribunal.
On September 20, 2019, the EFCC had already brought Taiga to justice in the High Court of the FCT in Apo, for complicity in the controversial contract signed by Nigeria with the Irish company P&ID in 2008.
Recall that Judge Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja had condemned the company, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, to end up in Nigeria and its property, confiscated for the benefit of the federal government.
Mr. Ekwo sentenced two directors, Mohammed Kuchazi and Adamu Usman.
Mr. Kuchazi and Usman were charged with 11 counts, including obtaining a false pretext; trading in petroleum products without an appropriate license; money laundering and failure to register the P&ID with the Special Anti-Money Laundering Control Unit, SCUML, as required by law, amounting to economic sabotage against the Nigerian state.
They had pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraudulent involvement in the contract.
The court, in its ruling, convicted the suspects and ordered the company to confiscate all of its assets for the benefit of the Nigerian government.
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday admitted Grace Taiga, former director of legal services at the Petroleum Resources Ministry, to N30 million bail in the multiple fraud case involving Process and Industrial Development Limited, P&ID.
Judge Obiora Egwuatu, in a ruling, also ordered Taiga, an alleged accomplice to the scandal, to produce two sureties of a similar amount, which must reside in the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on October 7 brought Taiga to justice before Egwuatu on seven counts of money laundering offenses.
The judge also ruled that one of the sureties must have property within the CTF and file the titled documents with the deputy chief clerk of the court.
Mr Egwuatu, who ruled that both sureties should have proof of tax acquittal, ordered that the defendant (Taiga) must file her international passport with the deputy chief clerk of the court and obtain the court's permission before proceeding. travel outside of Nigeria.
The judge then adjourned the case until January 17 for the start of the trial.
NAN reports that although the accused was brought to justice on October 7 before Judge Egwuatu on nine counts, bordering on accepting bribes and other related crimes, she did pleaded not guilty to all counts.
Prosecution attorney Abba Mohammed had requested that the accused be remanded in custody, but defense attorney Ola Olanipekun, SAN, informed that a bail request on behalf of his client dated March 18 had already been filed.
Olanipekun had asked the judge to admit him on bail for poor health.
However, the prosecutor said the EFCC filed a cross affidavit rejecting the bail application and another cross affidavit, which he said they relied on.
NAN reports that on September 20, 2019, the EFCC sued Taiga in the FCT High Court in Apo, for complicity in the controversial contract Nigeria signed with an Irish company, Process and Industrial Development Company (P&ID) in 2008.
Taiga, was the third person to be indicted by the anti-transplant agency.
It should be recalled that the federal government brought two P&ID representatives to justice in a Federal High Court in Abuja on allegations of fraud.
Federal High Court Judge IE Ekwo, sitting in Maitama, Abuja, ordered the company, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, to end up in Nigeria and its properties, confiscated for the benefit of the federal government.
Mr. Ekwo sentenced two directors, Mohammed Kuchazi and Adamu Usman.
Kuchazi and Usman were brought to justice on 11 counts, bordering on obtaining a false pretext; trading in petroleum products without an appropriate license; money laundering and failure to register the P&ID with the Special Anti-Money Laundering Control Unit, SCUML, as required by law, amounting to economic sabotage against the Nigerian state.
They pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraudulent involvement in the contract.
In its ruling, the court convicted the suspects and ordered the company to confiscate all of its assets from the Nigerian government.
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) says the real estate sector is becoming an avenue for hiding stolen funds in Nigeria.
Ms Chinwe Ndubeze CISLAC Consultant said this at the presentation of a report on Anti-money Laundering titled “Nigeria’s Dirty Money and Real Estate: How Money Laundering through Real Estate Impacts Nigeria’s Fight against Corruption in Abuja on Tuesday.
According to Ndubeze, Nigerian real estate sector has long provided opportunity for persons and companies to launder illegally acquired funds.
She said that the misuse of corporate vehicles for illicit purposes including money laundering, has been facilitating the utilisation of corruption proceeds and ill-gotten gains from other criminal activities.
She said that this was because the sector was a significant contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and that the economy and has the capacity to fast-track the growth of the nation’s economy if adequately structured.
She said that anti-corruption agencies affirmed that the real estate sector was the second most vulnerable money laundering sector next to the Bureau De Change operators in the country.
She said that corruption money channeled into the economy through the real estate sector can distort the market and inflate real property prices leaving people with no choice but to live in slums thereby causing housing deficit.
“While analysing money laundering through the real estate sector, six common denominators are identified:firstly, money launderers and criminals use third parties, professionals, family members and close associates to acquire high value real estate.
“Secondly, the use of pseudonyms to open accounts is frequent through which illegal funds were diverted into high-value real estate acquisitions, thirdly, the laundering of the proceeds of crime through purchase of high value real estate preferably abroad.
“Fourthly, majority of the cases reviewed involved politically exposed persons and their associates who channel almost in all cases parts of substantial volume of illegal proceeds into real estate in Nigeria and abroad.
“Fifthly ,transfers of illicit funds through offshore ban accounts is very frequent while purchasing real estate property,and sixthtly,laundering of illicit funds through real estate comes frequently with the aim of funding political parties,’’ she said.
Ndubeze said that while these findings were neither new nor unique to Nigeria, reforms to close loopholes leading to the gaps had been very difficult to implement.
Mr Isah Buhari, Director, Financial Policy and Regulation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said he was shocked when he saw the amount of money laundered through real estate as quoted by Trenchancy International.
Buhari said although measures against corruption existed in Nigeria, they could be implemented better adding that the Federal Government had made major strides in the fight against corruption recently.
“Some of the major reasons money laundering in the real estate sector is prevalent is that some of the anticorruption measures like assets declaration are not being followed.
“In Nigeria most of the declaration are inaccurate and misleading unfortunately but the federal government is working along these line to ensure it works and accurate.
“Also the land registry where people registered land they buy needs to be improved upon and there is also the issue of beneficial ownership register,’’ he said.
Buhari, however, said that the government was working to curb corruption through every means.
Earlier, Mr Auwal Rafsanjani ,Executive Director, CISLAC, said that the report was one of the society’s activities under the anti-money laundering programme identified as a priority given the crushing volume of resources that Nigeria lost through illicit financial flow.
Rafsanjani said Nigeria had been in the news for high level fraud and continuously high levels of capital flight adding that the illegal proceeds were cleaned up through the real estate sector in highbrow cities.
He said that it was worrisome that the government was yet to start collecting taxes on property to serve as a deterrent to frivolous real estate investments.
“In spite of wreaking social consequences and economic impacts; the national security ramifications may be even more significant as money laundering using real estate is becoming a key vehicle to move corrupt money from crimes and terrorist groups.
“Real estates are the prime tool for laundering money of which some is used for terror-related activities.’’
Rafsanjani said that the report identified crucial policy problems why Nigeria has not been able to tackle money laundering through real estate while acknowledging its negative impact on the economy.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that key stakeholders like SCUML, CBN, ICPC, Nigerian Institute of Esate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) who attended the event reiterated their commitment towards curbing money laundering through real estate sector in Nigeria.
Edited By: Ali Baba-Inuwa
15 to Jan 25, 2018, there was no reports made.
He said that, from available records, the said transactions were never reported to SCUML by the company, Ismalo Global Investment Ltd., the second defendant.
When Oyedepo asked the witness who signed Exhibit C (a reply to the investigation activities on the defendant), he answered, “I signed it.”
Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Mr Gboyega Oyewole (SAN), the witness told the court that he had been with SCUML years since 2006.
He said that he worked in the compliance department and had steadily got promoted up to the position of a principal compliance officer.
Oyewole then asked the witness, “So, you have never been in the operations department?”
The witness replied, “No.”
When asked the full meaning of DNFI, the witness said that it stood for Designated Non Financial Institutions
According to him, they are categories of businesses which are designated such as casinos, supermarkets, chartered accountants and lawyers.
The trial will continue on Feb. 26.
In the charge, prosecution alleged that Mompha laundered N32.9 billion through Ismalob Global Investment Ltd. from 2015 to 2018.
Both defendants were alleged to have negotiated foreign exchange transactions in various sums such as N9.4 million, N20 million, N10.4 million, N2.4million, N100 million, N61 million, N40.7 million and N42 million, among others.
Mompha was alleged to have aided the Ismalob to retain in its account, an aggregate sum of N14 billion procured from Pitacalize Ltd.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of sections 15(2) and 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.
Edited by: Angela Okisor/Ijeoma Popoola