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Curbing financial crimes in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Stakeholders said that adoption of new technology would be helpful.

Nigeria has not ceased to witness cases of terrorism financing, cyber crimes, and money laundering. However, at a Fin-Crime Summit, stakeholders states that these criminal acts could be curbed if the federal government of Nigeria chooses to ensure adoption of new technology. Also, stakeholders gathered at an event in Lagos to celebrate Ehi Eric Esoimeme, who has just been Conferred with Associate Professorship by Rudolph Kwanue University (Liberia) and Full Professorship by African Union University (Ethiopia).

These honorary positions were granted to Esoimeme as a recognition of his contributions to the aspect of public law and financial crime compliance. Stakeholders that attended the event said that Nigeria must do all it can to take away impediments affecting the quick implementation of new technologies in the country’s financial system. There are new technologies in banks that are known as regulatory technology (RegTech), and are capable of achieving a reduction of financial crimes in the country.

There is a need to effectively address all forms of barriers.

According to experts, this regulatory technology (RegTech) include artificial intelligence, big data and advanced cognitive analytics or algorithms that target customer identification and verification requirements, machine learning, and other regulatory frameworks. In a statement at the event in his honour, Esoimeme highlighted major challenges to include outdated national risk assessment on money laundering, lack of explicit guidance on the use of financial technology for data sharing, the absence of reliable data from the government, terrorism financing, and the lack of explicit regulatory requirements.

Esoimeme further stated that there are some factors that impedes financial institutions from having a record of progressive results in putting an end to financial-related crimes. According to him, these factors include cyber attacks, ineffective information sharing for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT),purposes and insider fraud. There is a need to effectively address legal, operational, national, and institutional barriers. Therefore, banks and other financial institutions require tools for the enhancement of the total capabilities of technological innovation.

Banks and other financial institutions should ensure adequate staffing.

Ehi Eric Esoimeme requested that Nigeria regularly updates its risk assessment to clearly show the risk profile of the country. Also, he requested that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) ensures maintenance of timely, accurate, adequate and up-to-date beneficial ownership information. To foster institutional and operational reforms, Esoimeme suggested that banks and other financial institutions ensures adequate staffing. This will aid the appropriate monitoring of the day-to-day compliance with cyber security and process automation for the mitigation of cyber attacks.

He further implored financial institutions to see to the dedication of sufficient human and technological resources to ensure minimization of the risk of a cyber attack. Amidst identification of cross-border financial crime risks that are of major concern to African Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCFTA), Esoimeme laid more emphasis on bribery and corruption, modern slavery, trade-based money laundering, illicit finance activity, and drug trafficking as the priority concerns of the African Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCFTA).

Anti-money laundering should be prioritized in implementing AfCFTA.

Assistant Vice President – Compliance, HSBC Bangladesh, Rezaul Karim, highlighted the effects of ineffective anti-money laundering leadership and strategies needed to build and lead anti-money laundering teams. He also spoke on challenges of leadership and their solutions, and best practices for effective leadership. At the event of Ehi Eric Esoimeme, Prof. Paul Allieu Kamara stated that prioritization of anti-money laundering in the implementation of African Continental Free Trade Areas (AfCFTA) would be helpful in providing a resolution to complex problems.

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