Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
A former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, has declared that investigations had revealed that virtually all cases of corruption occurred with the active involvement of banks and bankers.
He therefore observed that the nationâ€™s banking system is susceptible to abuse by corrupt individuals.
Ribadu, who spoke in Abuja at a book launch titled, â€˜Improving Anti-money Laundering Compliance: Self-Protecting Theory and Money Laundering Reporting Officersâ€™ written by Dr. Abdullahin Usman Bello, said, â€œinternally, we still have a lot of issues, as our banking system is prone to abuse by corrupt elements.â€
According to him, â€œinvestigations reveal every now and then that almost no case of corruption occurred without the involvement of banks and bankers.â€
He said: â€œThere are many avenues through which such abuses happen. Some individuals use the convenience of the areas that are subject to abuse as private banking offered by commercial banks for money laundering.
â€œSome others also use the anonymity offered by electronic banking to conceal suspicious transactions. Yet, some others use cash-intensive customers, who are into legitimate businesses as fronts or conduits for money laundering,â€ he said.
Ribadu noted that the first step to getting it right â€œwould mean getting the banks and operators to have an introspective look at some of these things, and resolve to put a stop to it both in public and corporate interest, as well as the individualâ€™s interest.â€
Risk management, he proffered, is very essential, advocating that â€œbanks should identify the risk of money laundering in relation to products, services and customers and assess such risks at every stage.â€
The former EFCC boss noted that â€œthe risks should also be managed whether high, medium or low- risk profiling through reporting, due diligence and monitoring.â€
He argued that â€œthere should also be thorough profiling of customers and manual and automated checks when onboarding new customers or reviewing existing customers, to checkmate abuse and potential risks.â€
He stressed that â€œas leadership is the first step in getting it right especially on matters of reforms and integrity, the board and senior management of financial institutions have a huge responsibility in ensuring strict compliance to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regimes.â€
â€œWhen it is the board or management staff that bend rules to approve suspicious deals or warehouse illicit funds, the rest of the staff are only being shown how to behave. The top has to therefore be firm for the rest to fall in line,â€ he said.
The former anti-graft agency boss advised the board and management of banks on the â€œneed to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and regulators, not only by the word of mouth but in letter and spirit.â€