President Muhammadu Buhari

The Presidency on Wednesday put to rest controversies surrounding the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) Bill as President Muhammadu Buhari signed it into law.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, (Senate) Senator Ita Enang made the disclosure at the State House, Abuja, where he noted that Buhari appended his signature to boost the Executive Order 6, also recently signed by the Federal Government to check illicit financial dealings in and out of the country.

According to the SSA, the NFIU which has now become an Act, will among other things, ensure compliance with international standards on matters bordering on money laundering and terrorism financing.

It is also expected to check suspicious financial transactions, including receiving, requesting, analysing, and disseminating financial intelligence to relevant agencies. The unit will henceforth be domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria, not the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

“The Act establishes the NFIU as a central body in Nigeria responsible for the receiving, requesting, analyzing and disseminating financial intelligence reports and other information to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and other relevant authorities to enable the institutions Act on same.

“The agency is independent and operationally autonomous body institutionally domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“This Act dissolves the Nigeria financial intelligence unit established in the EFCC Act and consequentially amends the Economic and Financial Commission Act, the Money Laundering {Prohibition) Act among others.

“One of the key objectives of the Act is the creation of a legal, institutional and regulatory framework to ensure transparency, effective and efficient and management administration and operation of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence unit.

“Also the bill will institutionalize best practices in financial intelligence management in Nigeria and strengthen the existing system for combating money laundering and associated predicated offences, financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

“The Act which makes the unit an autonomous body, makes provision for the unit to exchange information with financial intelligence institutions or similar bodies in other countries in matters relating to money laundering, terrorist financing activities and other predicated offences.

“Some of the functions of the Unit are to: receive request analyse and disseminate financial intelligence reports on money laundering, terrorist financing and other relevant information to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies and other relevant authorities.

“Receiving and collect currency transactions reports, suspicious transactions reports and any information including records of wire transfers relevant to money laundering, financing of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and associated predicate offences from financial institutions, designated non-financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, security agencies and relevant regulatory and administrative authorities,”Enang stated.

He also said that its earlier emergence was predicated on the requirements of Recommendation 29 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards and Article 14 of United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC)

NFIU had been admitted in 2007 into the Egmont Group, a global body responsible for setting standards on best practices for FIUs in over 131 FIUs from 131 jurisdictions.

The Egmont group was reportedly founded in 1995 to foster international collaboration in the exchange of intelligence by member states, support and influence the work of FATF in relation to the mandate of FIUs under FATF Recommendations 29 and 40.

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