Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has urged compliance officers of banks in Nigeria to be more diligent in their responsibilities, as a way of tackling money laundering and other fraudulent practices in the sector.
Magu in a statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, made this call yesterday in Lagos during an interactive session with Association of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria (ACCOBIN).
â€œWe need to find a common ground to work together. You have a responsibility to fight corruption,â€ he charged.
He stressed that compliance officers in various banks in Nigeria must also take ownership of the fight against corruption, which he described as one of the problems bedeviling the banking industry.
Magu said: â€œThe Commission is ready to partner you to ensure a healthy economy.
â€œWe are ready to assist the banks in recovering their debts, but compliance officers must ensure due diligence, especially when giving out loans to customers.
â€œI know you sometimes need to protect some of your customers. But it is sometimes better that you do without some of these people; otherwise, you will be seen as conspiring with them to steal public funds.â€
The EFCC boss further charged banksâ€™ compliance officers to always provide the commission with necessary information to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities, adding that â€œwe must work together to save this country. Most of the banks are sitting on water. In fact, some of these banks are almost collapsing.
â€œI know there are questions you canâ€™t ask, particularly if it involves some individuals, but if you give us information on such people, we will move in. If there are fundamental issues that can affect your banks, you can give us the information, especially as another general elections approache.
â€œI donâ€™t want to be charging banks alongside suspected criminals because doing so can wreak havoc on the economy. It will even discourage investors from coming to the country, â€ he added.
The anti-graft boss, who also stressed the need for concerted efforts to save the banking industry, added that â€œevery bank is capable of going distressed, no matter its size. That is why we are battling to see that you stay afloat.â€
Magu also expressed concerns about the concept of private banking in Nigeria, which he said could be abused by politically exposed persons.
He, therefore, urged the group to look very critically into the issue, saying, â€œThere must be due diligence, even in this practice of private banking. There must be accountability; there must be transparency in our transactions. You donâ€™t have to wait until anything goes awry before you begin to find a solution to it.â€
In his response, the Chairman, ACCOBIN, Mr. Opeyemi Adojutelegan, lauded the commission for its intervention to save the banking sector.
Adejutelegan also assured Magu of the associationâ€™s readiness to continue to work with the commission, saying: â€œOurs is to contribute our quota to the development of the country.â€