- Says real estate sector vulnerable for money laundering
By PAUL MICHAEL, ABUJA
The Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has restated the commitment of the Commission towards combating money laundering and terrorism financing in the real estate sector of the economy.
Bawa stated this in Abuja on Monday at a workshop organized by the InterGovernmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA). He added that the Nigeria Evaluation Report shows that the real estate sector is the second most vulnerable sector to money laundering practices in Nigeria.
According to him, places like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Lagos are some of the major cities where properties are regularly purchased mostly in cash and often in foreign currencies, with no questions asked by anybody, about the legality of such transactions.
He said, “Just last year in July, the EFCC launched an App called ‘The Eagle Eye’ which has eased the processes of reporting economic and financial crimes and also exposed the flow of illicit funds in the real estate sector.
“This indeed has provided useful intelligence and goes to show the level of commitment that EFCC has in the real estate sector.”
Bawa, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Hadiza Gamawa Zubairu, further stressed that based on the existing realities of the real estate sector, the EFCC will leave no stone unturned in combating money laundering practices in the sector.
He restated the readiness of the EFCC to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in its efforts toward combating the menace, while also strengthening the capacity of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) to effectively discharge its responsibilities in enforcing compliance in the real estate sector.
The EFCC boss added that loopholes being exploited to launder funds in the real estate sector are caused by weak regulations, lack of strict parameters for business practices by the regulatory bodies, and poor compliance with laws, among others.
On his part, the Director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Modibbo Tukur, called for collaboration and coordination among agencies, locally and regionally, in combating money laundering and illicit financial flows.
Tukur proposed stronger legislative regulations, including the need for every citizen in GIABA member states to be linked to a unified identification number, in order to make it easier to track culprits.
In his own submissions, the secretary, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Yunusa Shuaibu, called for stricter regulation and coordination in the real estate sector, stressing that “the sector is currently free for all”.
He added that “We are ready to cooperate at all times to achieving this feat and this is why we decided to sponsor a bill at the National Assembly.”
Director of Evaluation and Compliance, GIABA, Bruno Nduka, thanked Bawa for taking interest in the activities of GIABA and supporting the body.
He said the real estate sector is one of the main drivers of economic growth and the engine of social development across GIABA- member states.
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