The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has raised concerns over the new mode of money laundering through investments in real estates the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Lamorde, made this known during a courtesy visit to the minister of the FCT, Bala Mohammed in Abuja.
He said that the EFCC had uncovered several money laundering schemes in the city in which the perpetrators disguise the proceeds of crime by investing in properties without using the banks, prefering to pay for their acquisition with cash.
The EFCC boss further revealed that the laundered funds are frequently converted into foreign currencies through the bureau de change before the purchases are made and that in most cases, no change of ownership is done after such acquisitions, making it difficult to verify the identities of the new owners or the sources of fund.
He said over 270 cases of land scams were reported to the commission in the last 3 years, adding that evidence of the trend is the number of palatial but unoccupied houses that litter the capital city.
Lamorde said the commission suspected incl enemy of some FCT administration officials in some of the cases investigated and called on the minister to be prepared to initiate disciplinary action against erring officers.
In his response, Bala pledged to continue to give support to the commission in its efforts to stamp out corruption from the FCT, noting that the most brazen of the vices was land fraud and that the EFCC had assisted in the arrest and prosecution of some of those involved.
“It is sad that the capital territory as a jurisdiction is used as a citadel of corruption and also for perpetuating acts of corruption, people from the states and local government illegally acquire money and come to get it hidden in the FCT through acquisition of properties that are not registered and that is a big concern because it is depriving the FCT of the revenue needed and increasing corruption in the Capital Territory,” the minister noted.
In addition, he disclosed that the FCTA was working with the Abuja Geographical Information System, AGIS, to upgrade its system in such a manner that it would be difficult for anybody to impersonate, manipulate or forge land documents.