Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has called for the adoption of a new approach to the fight against financial crimes and terrorist financing if states in West Africa were to succeed in their efforts to curb these crimes in the sub-region.
Mrs. Adeosun said unlike before, attention should now be directed at evolving preventive measures and other preliminary efforts, including strengthening existing agencies established to fight these crimes.
The Finance Minister spoke in Abuja Friday at the opening session of the 18th Ministerial Committee meeting of the Inter-Governmental Action Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mahmud Isa Dutse, Mrs. Adeosun said: “I want to state that it is not the arrest, investigation and prosecution of culprits only that make up the fight against the menace of money laundering and financing of terrorism as many would want to believe.Much more is needed to be done in the administration, prevention and other preliminary efforts, much of which involve building, strengthening and administering as well as developing appropriate policies and practices for relevant anti-corruption, anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism institutions.
“Focus should also be centered on bringing the existing anti-money laundering and combating financial crimes (AML/CFT) institutions to the attention and understanding of all stakeholders.
“Stakeholders need to have good understanding of these institutions – both local and international – that are in place to fight corruption, money laundering and financing of terrorism; what is to be done, by whom and the timeline required to do them,” Mrs. Adeosun said.
GIABA’s Director General, Colonel Adama Coulibaly praised the Nigerian government for its various initiatives aimed at addressing the challenges of financial crimes and terrorist financing.
Coulibaly said “Recent strong measures taken by Nigeria, including the freezing of all bank accounts not covered by a bank verification number (BVN) to conduct transactions on all banking platforms in Nigeria for the benefit of the Public Treasury are to be hailed.
He said these measures “should be complemented with those expected by the Egmont Group and the international FATF community to definitively consecrate the independence of the Financial Intelligence Unit vis-à-vis other national entities involved in the fight.”