Real Estate: Money laundering thrives in Abuja, Kano, Lagos, P/Harcourt
Daily Courier – Executive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Abdulrasheed Bawa has identified four cities in Nigeria where the real estate sector benefit significantly from money laundering. The cities are Abuja, Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
Bawa therefore pledged that the agency would do its best combat money laundering and terrorism financing in the real estate sector of the economy.
He spoke yesterday at a workshop organised by the Inter-governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa.
Bawa said the Nigeria evaluation report showed that the real estate sector is the second most vulnerable sector to money laundering practices in Nigeria.
He said places like Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Lagos are some of the major cities where properties are regularly purchased mostly in cash and often in foreign currencies, with no questions asked by anybody about the legality of such transactions.
The EFCC boss, who spoke through his chief of staff, Hadiza Gamawa Zubairu, said based on the current realities in the real estate sector, the EFCC would leave no stone unturned in combating money laundering practices in the sector.
He said, “Just last July, the EFCC launched an App called ‘The Eagle Eye’ which has eased the processes of reporting economic and financial crimes and also exposed the flow of illicit funds in the real estate sector. This indeed has provided useful intelligence and goes to show the level of commitment that EFCC has in the real estate sector.”
Bawa restated the readiness of the EFCC to collaborate with the relevant stakeholders in its efforts to combating the menace, while also strengthening the capacity of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) to effectively discharge its responsibilities in enforcing compliance in the real estate sector.
The EFCC boss added that loopholes being exploited to launder funds in the real estate sector were weak regulations, lack of strict parameters for business practices by the regulatory bodies, poor compliance to laws, among others.
Also, director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Modibbo Hamman Tukur, called for collaboration and coordination among local and regional agencies in combating money laundering and illicit financial flows.