Ribadu: Banking System Prone to Abuse by Corrupt Elements


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 nation’s banking system is susceptible to abuse by corrupt individuals.

Ribadu, who spoke in Abuja at a book launch titled, ‘Improving Anti-money Laundering Compliance: Self-Protecting Theory and Money Laundering Reporting Officers’ written by Dr. Abdullahin Usman Bello, said, “internally, we still have a lot of issues, as our banking system is prone to abuse by corrupt elements.”

According to him, “investigations reveal every now and then that almost no case of corruption occurred without the involvement of banks and bankers.”
He said: “There 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.

“Some 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,” he said.

Ribadu noted that the first step to getting it right “would 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 individual’s interest.”
Risk management, he proffered, is very essential, advocating that “banks should identify the risk of money laundering in relation to products, services and customers and assess such risks at every stage.”

The former EFCC boss noted that “the risks should also be managed whether high, medium or low- risk profiling through reporting, due diligence and monitoring.”
He argued that “there 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.”
He stressed that “as 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.”

“When 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,” he said.

The former anti-graft agency boss advised the board and management of banks on the “need to cooperate with law enforcement agencies and regulators, not only by the word of mouth but in letter and spirit.”