ABCON raises alarm over delay of NFIU autonomy
The continuous delay in granting operational autonomy to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) may have irked the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON).The group, besides faulting the development, has raised alarm on the implications of the inaction, which it identified as derailment of the progress so far recorded in the financial system.
ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, told newsmen in Lagos yesterday, that his group, as a self-regulatory body of over 3,500 members licenced and registered by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to sell foreign exchange to end-users, is worried over the delay and controversies surrounding NFIU’s autonomy.He said that despite the looming threat of Nigeria’s expulsion from the Egmont Group, a 153-nation network of national financial intelligence units, the Senate and House Committees on Anti-Corruption have disagreed over the domiciliation of the NFIU and need to grant the body full autonomy.
The Recommendation 29 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) permits the domiciliation of the Financial Intelligence Unit in any larger organisation, as long as it has its operational and financial independence.
The bill to grant financial and operational autonomy to the unit, which has been passed by both legislative chambers, is before the conference committee of the National Assembly, which is required to harmonise the discrepancies in both versions of the legislation.Gwadabe reiterated that the delay should stop as it portends dangers for the entire financial market and could lead to Nigeria’s suspension by the Egmont Group.
According to Gwadabe, should such suspension occur, Visa, MasterCard and other credit cards issued by Nigerian financial institutions would be rejected by global financial institutions. He added that such suspension could also adversely affect Nigeria’s credit rating by global financial markets.
Another adverse implications, he said, is that it would derail the anti-corruption war as recovery of looted funds abroad and other follow up by anti-corruption agencies will be hindered, making cooperation by sister global corruption agencies difficult.He added that it could also affect the international ratings of Nigerian financial institutions, restricting their access to some big-ticket international transactions.
Nigeria will also no longer be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other member countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom.
He said that ABCON has zero tolerance for poor Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance, and therefore wants the relevant parties to unite to save Nigeria from an unintended vulnerabilities, threats, risks and losses that would follow the suspension.
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