BDCs Prepare for FATF Team Assessment visit to Nigeria

Aminu Gwadabe

Peter Uzoho
Bureaux de Change (BDC) operators under the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) are preparing for the annual evaluation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) team visiting the country soon.

The ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, in a statement ahead of the visit, said BDCs were getting ready to receive the FATF team. He said ABCON, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was organising a sensitisation workshop for over 4,500 licenced BDCs in the country.
He said the workshop, which would hold in the six geopolitical zones across the country, would take off in the next one week.

He added that the BDCs would be trained on the obligation of registering and filling reports on the NFIU anti-money laundering portal.
Gwadabe, said the anti-money laundering training was intended to familiarise BDC operators with the process of money laundering — the criminal business used to disguise the true origin and ownership of illegal cash — and the laws that make it a crime.

He said money laundering and terrorist financing posed not only a threat, but challenge to the economy, security, and social life in Nigeria, the region and globally.
Gwadabe, said he training was also meant to help BDCs maintain minimum standard of record keeping and increasing level of investor confidence for the economy.

The training, the ABCON boss added, would create awareness on the need to check money laundering and terrorist financing; ensure that BDCs are not used to launder funds by Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). It will also upscale BDCs’ compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) for Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria Regulations.

Gwadabe, said the visit became necessary after the FATF team in February, named Nigeria in a proposed European Union blacklist of nations seen as posing a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering.
The criteria used to blacklist countries include low sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency over the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.

Gwadabe, said visit by the FATF team will enable it see new efforts by the country to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

He said as the global body that sets standard for AML/CFT efforts, the FATF team would assess banks and other financial institutions compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.

He said like other previous evaluations for the country, the FATF team will carry out checks at the branches of selected banks and BDCs across the country, adding that compliance at the airports and land borders may also come under their scrutiny.

Gwadabe, said Nigeria has largely addressed its action plan by enacting legislation to adequately criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing, implementing procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets, ensuring that customer due diligence requirements apply to all financial instructions.

He said Nigeria has been one of the regional champions mentoring other member states in the development of their AML/CFT systems adding that the full digitization of Nigeria BDCs operations is a boost for financial system stability and Nigeria’s standing on the regular FATF assessment for Nigeria.

NASC Foresees Bumper Harvest,
The Director-General, National Agricultural Seed Council (NASC), Dr Olusegun Ojo, has assured Nigerians of bumper harvest, good quality seeds, improved standard of living and overall improvement in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ojo gave the assurance after a meeting of partners at the council’s headquarters in Abuja, recently. He said this would be made possible through a project he called Rapid Multiplication and Production of Early Generation Seed for Production of Certified Seeds for Farmers in Nigeria. He said the project was aimed at making sure that early generation seeds comprising of foundation seeds and breeder seeds were produced in abundance. Ojo, further stated that the meeting was for planning and review of the consortium comprising NASC and two leading seed companies, Premier Seed and Value Seed.

He said the meeting came as the need arose, to appraise the development and performance of the consortium.
“The meeting is being held at the instance of NASC because it is the one coordinating the other two stakeholders and more so, it is due to the fact that money has been released by AGRA for the execution of various aspects of the project.
“Therefore, this meeting is to find out the level of implementation from each of the stakeholders,’’ he said.

The Project Manager of the AGRA Early Generation Seed (EGS) programme, Mr Folarin Okelola, said that the two leading seed companies, Premier Seed and Value Seed were saddled with the responsibilities of producing quality rice, maize and soybeans seeds.

“Very soon, the challenge of early generation seeds production in Nigeria will be a thing of the past,’’ he assured.

He added that the project was funded by AGRA and other donors including USAID, UKAid, BMGF and Rockefeller foundation under the acronym of PIATA.
According to him, Partnership for Inclusive Agricultural Transformation in Africa (PIATA) is the umbrella body where donors pull their resources together to support various agricultural development programmes in the region.