Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, Finance Minister
• Removed from list of countries deficient in anti-money laundering regime
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) yesterday removed Nigeria from the list of countries identified as jurisdictions with significant deficiencies in their Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regimes.
The action was taken following the country’s full implementation of the mutually agreed Action Plan and the exhibition of a clear political commitment to continue the development of its AML/CFT regime.
In a statement issued yesterday in Paris, France, the FATF expressed satisfaction with the political will displayed by Nigeria in improving its Global AML/CFT compliance. Accordingly, the FATF voted unanimously to expunge Nigeria from the list of jurisdictions.
The Presidential Committee on Financial Action Task Force headed by Stephen Oronsaye said the FATF took the decision at the end of its plenary meeting held in Paris, France, between 14th and 18th October 2013.
Oronsaye in his statement noted: “In the recent past, Nigeria has received technical assistance from the IMF to develop a risk-based approach to AML/CFT supervision. This has resulted in the development of similar procedures across all regulatory authorities as well as the financial intelligence unit, namely the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Insurance Commission and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit.
“The authorities are now engaging with the World Bank to undertake a national risk assessment to provide a basis for further developing the overall AML/CFT regime and strategic framework. The Presidential Committee is committed to continuing the coordination of this process.
“It will also be recalled that due to the listing of Nigeria as a high-risk jurisdiction by the FATF, many financial institutions treaded cautiously in transacting business with their Nigerian counterparts. However, following political commitment by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, particularly in the past two years, Nigeria fast-tracked its implementation of the mutually agreed Action Plan.
“This commitment was underscored when the President constituted a Cabinet Committee headed by Vice President Namadi Sambo to accelerate the delisting of Nigeria from the list of jurisdictions with outstanding issues with the FATF as they relate to Anti-Money laundering/Counter Financing Terrorism regimes.”
Oronsaye said with the delisting of the country from the grey list, Nigeria and Nigerian businesses were now free from the repercussions of being labeled a non-cooperating and high-risk jurisdiction in the aspect of money laundering and terrorists financing.
He added: “It is expected that there will be great reduction in the costs and time line of financial transactions between individuals and institutions between Nigeria and other countries. Besides the guarantee of improved global rating for the country’s financial system, the amended laws and regulations will strengthen the enforcement and regulatory capacities of relevant institutions in Nigeria.
THISDAY had in July, predicted that the country may exit the grey list of the global anti-money laundering body prior to the planned visit of the International Cooperation Review Group (ICRG) of the FATF in September 2013.
The global anti-money laundering body welcomed Nigeria’s significant progress in improving its AML/CFT regime and noted that the country had established the legal and regulatory framework to meet its commitments in its Action Plan regarding the strategic deficiencies that the FATF had identified in February 2010.
It added: “Nigeria is therefore no longer subject to FATF’s monitoring process under its on-going global AML/CFT compliance process. Nigeria will work with GIABA as it continues to address the full range of issues identified in its Mutual Evaluation Report.
“The removal of Nigeria from the list is evidence of her productive and continuous engagement with FATF and GIABA to improve her AML/CFT regime. The outcome of the on-site visit of the FATF ICRG to Nigeria in September, 2013, noted that Nigeria has substantially completed the technical items on her Action Plan and that there is political commitment and institutional capacity to continue to implement AML/CFT reforms.”
It would be recalled that during the recent on-site visit of the Regional Review Group (RRG) for Africa and the Middle East to Nigeria, the review team held meetings with the Minister of Finance, Attorney-General of the Federation, Office of the National Security Adviser and senior members of government departments, law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and regulatory authorities.
The review team also noted Nigeria’s political commitment to continue to develop and strengthen the AML/CFT framework as was very clearly stated by the ministers.
The RRG team further observed that the government confirmed its resolve to ensure that the relevant agencies working on AML/CFT issues were adequately empowered through legal and financial resources to fulfill their roles.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an inter-governmental body established in 1989 by the ministers of its member jurisdictions.
The objectives of the FATF are to set standards and promote effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.