US Trains Nigerian Security Operatives On Financial Intelligence

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By Tosin Omoniyi

The United States, on Monday commenced a five-day training for Nigerian security operatives on financial intelligence gathering and tracking of illicit funding of money launderers and terrorists.

The interagency training programme tagged, ‘Cross Border Financial Investigation’ is being organized by the United States Department of Homeland Security.

The program had in attendance officers of the Nigeria Police Force, NPF; Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS; Nigeria Customs Service, NCS; National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, and the EFCC.

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, who spoke at the opening ceremony in Abuja, advocated for improved financial intelligence gathering on the part of security agencies to check the flow of illicit funds.

He said this is all the more vital if the current war on terror would be won.

Lamorde said the greatest concern for security operatives was how to determine how terrorists fund their operations. The EFCC boss said depriving terrorists of access to needed funds would certainly cripple their operations. But he was quick to add that determining the source and the movement of such funds was a major challenge for law enforcement agents.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen our financial intelligence architecture to enable us effectively monitor cash trails and check illicit cash flow to organized criminal gangs. While tremendous progress has been recorded in strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and the Compliance Regime in Nigeria, monitoring the movement of cash outside the financial sector, remains a major challenge, because of Nigeria’s predominantly cash-based economy,” Lamorde enthused.

He applauded the commitment of the United States government in assisting Nigeria surmount its contemporary challenges through empowerment of its institutional development.

“It is gratifying that this programme is coming a few weeks after the historic visit of President Muhammadu Buhari, to the United State, where he and President Barack Obama pledged to deepen the cooperation and friendship between our two countries,” Lamorde said.

Lamorde said he had always considered the Americans, dependable allies in the fight against economic crimes and corruption in Nigeria. He explained that the record of partnership between the EFCC and US institutions, such as the Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, United States Postal Inspection Service, United States Secret Service, among others was exemplary.

He added that operatives of the EFCC had benefitted from several training programmes organized by US agencies in Nigeria, Ghana, Malta, Botswana and the United States.

He described the impact of such trainings on the operations of the Commission as invaluable.

He said the focus of the current training programme was aimed at training security operatives on how to track the funding of suspected money launderers and terrorist outfits.

He said while tremendous progress had been recorded in strengthening the anti money laundering regulation and compliance regime in Nigeria, monitoring the movement of cash outside the financial sector, remains a major challenge for operatives, considering that Nigeria is still predominantly a cash-based economy.

He commended the Nigeria Customs Service and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, whom he said had assisted the EFCC to check illicit movement of funds across the nation’s borders in the recent past.

He noted that this accounted for the significant drop in currency outflow outside Nigeria in 2013, as currency declaration dropped from $9.9bn to $1.3bn.

He added that there was a further drop in 2014 as currency outflows recorded an all- time low of $807.585m.

Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy, Maria Brewer, in her remarks, noted that the training programme would expose participants to new trends and techniques in combating economic and financial crimes.






     

     

    “Since economic and financial crimes is a global phenomenon, the training will focus among others, on taking away the proceeds of crime, because when you take away the money, you take away why people do crime,” she said.

    Dignitaries at the opening ceremony included, Acting Director, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement US Mission, Abuja, Benjamin Bryan; Attaché, Department of Homeland Security Investigation, DHSI, Steven Robinson; Deputy Comptroller General of Immigration, TA Hundeyin, and Commander of Narcotics, NDLEA , Hamisa Lawal.

    The highpoint of the ceremony was the donation of a high-tech counting machine to the EFCC.

    Brewer, who made the presentation on behalf of the US government, said that it was one avenue through which the Americans wanted to assist the country in fighting corruption.

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