To curb illicit financial transactions, the Nigerian Senate has passed a bill to amend the Money Laundering Act 2011.
Sponsored by Abdu Kwari, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, the bill would help in the fight against corruption, money laundering and terrorism in line with international standards, which the extant law could not fully guarantee.
Presenting the committee's report, Kwari said that the bill would provide an effective and comprehensive legal framework to reinvigorate the fight against money laundering and related crimes in the country by leaning more on prevention as a valuable tool to strengthen the existing legal regime.
"…It would provide protection for employees of various anti-graft institutions, and see to the establishment of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering under the EFCC (Economic and Financial Crime Commission). The unit, when established, would be charged with the effective implementation of the money laundering laws in relation to designated non-financial businesses and/or professions in Nigeria," he said.
"The enactment of this bill will resolve the institutional issues regarding the establishment of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, being implemented by the EFCC. The bill seeks to introduce a certain supervisory and enforcement mechanism, through the imposition of administrative penalties for breach of any requirement imposed by law."
Critical sections of the passed bill
The Money Laundering Bill 2022 mandates banks and other financial institutions to report in writing to the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering under the EFCC any single transaction or lodgment in excess of N5 million for an individual, and N10 million in the case of a corporate body.
As provided in Section 11(3), "any Financial Institution or Designated Non-Financial Business and Profession that contravenes the provisions of this section commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N250,000 and not more than N1 million for each day the contravention continues."
In Section 12, the bill prohibits opening numbered or anonymous accounts in fictitious names. It says any person or financial institution that contravenes the provisions of Section 12 subsections 1, 2 and 3 commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment of not less than two years and not more than five years in the case of an individual and a fine of not less than N10 million (but not more than N50 million) for a financial institution.
It also allows for prosecuting the principal officers of the body concerned and the winding up and prohibition of its constitution or incorporation.
In Section 13, the bill further mandates financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions to identify and assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks that may arise in relation to the development of new products and new business practices.