Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa has reiterated the commitment of the Commission to beam its search lights on the real estate sector of the economy.
Bawa stated this in Abuja on Monday, 25 April, during a workshop organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA.
TheFact Nigeria notes that, according to the Nigeria Evaluation Report, the real estate sector as the second most vulnerable industry in the country, after the banking sector, is susceptible to such financial crimes as money laundering and terrorism finsncing.
Bawa, who was represented at the workshop by his Chief of Staff, Hadiza Gamawa Zubairu, maintained that cities such as Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano and Lagos are some of the major places where properties are regularly purchased mostly in cash and often in foreign currencies, without questions regarding the legality of such transactions.
He further stressed that, based on the existing realities of the real sector, the EFCC will leave no stone unturned in combating money laundering practices in the sector.
“Just last year in 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”, he said.
Bawa restated the readiness of the EFCC to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in its efforts towards 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 anti-graft Commission’s Chief identified factors such as weak regulations, lack of strict parameters for business practices by the regulatory bodies, poor compliance to laws among others,e as loopholes being exploited to launder funds in the real estate sector.
Director of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, Modibbo Hamman Tukur, who was present at the workshop, called for collaboration and coordination among local and regional agencies, in combating money laundering and illicit financial flows.
He proposed stronger legislative regulations, including the need for every citizen in GIABA member States to be linked to a unified identification number, in order to make it easier to track culprits.
In his own submission, Secretary, Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria, REDAN, Yunusa Shuaibu, called for stricter regulation and coordination in the real sector, stressing that “the sector is currently free for all”.
He disclosed that the decision of the Association to sponsor a bill at the National Assembly was fueled by thier readiness “to cooperate at all times to achieve this feat…”.
Director of Evaluation and Compliance, GIABA, Dr. Bruno Nduka, particularly thanked Bawa for his keen interests in the activities of GIABA, as well as providing tremendous support to the association. He said the real estate sector is one of the main drivers of economic growth and engine of social development across GIABA- member states.