Money laundering: EFCC raids hotels, real estate firm

By SONI DANIEL, REGIONAL EDITOR, NORTH

ABUJA — The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, yesterday, raided a real estate firm, First Group, and some hotels in Abuja for non-compliance with anti-money laundering rules.

The raid carried out by the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, SCUML, resulted in the arrest of three persons by the commission.

Those arrested were Isemede Mac-Henry, General Manager/Accountant, First Group Real Estate Company; Fadipe Emmanuel Abiodun, Managing Director, Alexis Hotel and Ekanem Ibok Essien, Managing Director, Rittman Suites.

They were said to have failed to comply with extant regulations mandating Designated Non- Financial Institutions, DNFIs, to register with the SCUML in line with the anti-money laundering laws.

Aside from enforcing compliance with regulations, Angela Nworgu, Head of SCUML, said the intelligence-driven raid was aimed at uncovering the beneficial ownership of entities that could be used to launder money within and outside Nigeria.

First Group Real Estate Company, with substantial foreign ownership, has been involved in marketing, promotion and sale of off-shore real estates primarily in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Nworgu called on DNFIs to continue to abide by extant regulations to avoid the wrath of the law.

Section 5 of the Money Laundering Act 2011 requires existing DNFIs to submit to the Ministry of Commerce, within three months from the commencement of the Act, a declaration of their activities and records of transactions in chronological order, indicating each customer’s surname, forenames and addresses.

DFNIs include dealers in jewelleries, cars, supermarkets, chartered accountants, audit firms, tax consultants, clearing companies, legal practitioners, hotels, casinos, or such other businesses as the Federal Ministry of Commerce or appropriate regulatory authorities may from time to time designate.

In the meantime, the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) has called on the EFCC to collaborate with it in facilitating training for anti-corruption personnel in West and Central Africa.

Mr. Hapaz bin Nazar of the Interpol headquarters, Lyon, France made the request during a visit to the Commandant of the EFCC Academy, Karu, Abuja.

The Interpol officer said they were at the Academy to seek the assistance of the EFCC to host and train participants in a training programme on Anti-Corruption in West and Central Africa.

Ayo Olowoniyi, Commandant EFCC Academy, who received the delegates, expressed his appreciation that such event was coming to Nigeria.

Olowoniyi bemoaned a situation where Nigerians are held liable for economic and financial crimes committed abroad even when such culprits are not Nigerians.

Nazar said the proposed training programme was a response to the demand and requests from across the globe for Interpol to play a more active role in the fight against corruption.

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