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In an effort to curb the menace of corruption, the Nigerian Senate has passed a bill to amend the Money Laundering Act 2011 to provide for an effective and comprehensive legal framework to reinvigorate the fight against money laundering in the country.

The bill titled ‘Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act 2022,’ followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.

According to Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index, Nigeria is ranked 14th among the most vulnerable country to money laundering and terrorist financing in 2019 with a risk score of 6.88/10 as against 6.86 in 2018.

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The Senate in acknowledging the fact that exposure to money laundering and terrorist financing is increasing in Nigeria hence the need for an Act and provisions of a bill that will make it mandatory for Banks and other Financial Institutions to report in writing to the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), any single transaction or lodgment in excess of N5 million naira for an individual, and N10 million in the case of a corporate body.

It provides in Section 11(3) that “any Financial Institution or Designated Non-Financial Business and Profession that contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N250,000 and not more than N1 million for each day the contravention continues.”

READ ALSO: EFCC: ‘Employees of financial institutions should declare assets to Commission’

In addition, the provisions of the bill in Section 12 prohibit the opening of numbered or anonymous accounts in fictitious names and shell banks. 

The bill provides that any person or financial institution that contravenes the provisions of Section 12 subsections (1), (2), and (3) commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment of not less than 2 years, and not more than 5 years in the case of an individual.

It also provides for a fine of not less than N10 million, but not more than N50 million for a financial institution, in addition to the prosecution of the principal officers of the body, and winding up and prohibition of its constitution or incorporation.

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The provisions of Section 13 further mandate financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions to identify and assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks that may arise in relation to the development of new products and new business practices.

Committee Chairman, Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari (APC, Kaduna North), in his presentation, said the bill seeks to repeal the institutional and legal framework on money laundering prohibition in Nigeria. 

According to him, the amendment to the Act, would “provide for effective and comprehensive legal framework to reinvigorate the fight against money laundering in the country by leaning more on prevention as a useful tool to strengthen the existing legal regime in combating money laundering and other related crimes in the country.”

He added that the re-enactment bill provides appropriate penalties and expands the scope of supervisory bodies to effectively address the challenges faced in the implementation of anti-money laundering laws in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: FRAUD: Reps ask EFCC to probe PRODA officials 

Kwari further explained that the bill upon becoming law, would provide protection for employees of various anti-graft institutions, and see to the establishment of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

He said that the unit when established, would be charged with the effective implementation of the money laundering laws in relation to designated Non-Financial Businesses and or Professions in Nigeria. 

“The enactment of this bill will resolve the institutional issues regarding the establishment of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, being implemented by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

READ ALSO: EFCC calls for Special Anti-Corruption Courts

“The bill seeks to introduce certain supervisory and enforcement mechanism, through the imposition of administrative penalties for breach of any requirement imposed by law,” the lawmaker said. 

The bill was passed by the upper legislative chamber after consideration by the Committee of the Whole.

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