Abdulrasheed Bawa, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has asked banks to collaborate with the agency in tackling fraudulent election financing and foreign exchange malpractices.
Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the EFCC, quoted Bawa as saying this during an interactive session with managing directors of banks, on Thursday, in Lagos.
In March, the anti-corruption agency had ordered bank employees to declare their assets — as part of efforts to check the role of bankers in keeping funds acquired illegitimately.
Speaking at the interactive session, Bawa said the anti-graft agency is working in line with the United Nations’ categorisation of the fight against corruption vis-à-vis prevention, enforcement and assets recovery, adding that it is important to bring the financial institutions up to speed with the evolving policies.
“At the EFCC, we want to place more emphasis on prevention. We want to lay less emphasis on enforcement, which is investigation and prosecution and put our energy more on prevention and asset recovery,” Bawa said.
“In addition, some of the issues we have identified include foreign exchange malpractices and fraudulent election financing.
“As you all know, in 16 to 18 months, Nigeria will be preparing for another round of elections, and the government will not want what happened in the past to repeat itself.”
The EFCC boss said that it had become necessary to put bankers on their toes, particularly as the 2023 general elections approached.
He declared that the “new EFCC” under his leadership believes that financial institutions had an important role in the commission’s efforts to rid Nigeria of economic and financial crimes.
He also urged the bankers to comply with the guidelines of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the issuance of personal travel allowance (PTA) and business travel allowance (BTA) to their customers.
“You need to ensure full compliance with regard to knowing your customers and ensuring that you do not give opportunities for foreign exchange malpractices,” he said.
Bawa disagreed with the allegation of a cat-and-mouse relationship between the EFCC and financial institutions in the country.
“Moving forward, come September 1, anything that we see that is happening or has happened within your industry, we are going to deal with it by the books,” he said.
“The commission will ensure that any banker complicit in any such financial fraud will face the full wrath of the law.
“It is better to have fewer banks complying with the laws of the land than to have multiple banks not complying with the laws, ” he added.
In his remarks, Kennedy Uzoka, group chief executive officer of United Bank for Africa (UBA), described the engagement as “a very unique gathering”, adding that “the new leadership of the EFCC is seeing things from a new prism”.
Ebenezer Onyeagwu, managing director of Zenith Bank Plc, also pledged support for the EFCC’s war against corruption.
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