Ahead of the 2023 general election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has disclosed that it has its searchlight on some politicians who launder money through their lawyers, bank accounts managers, precious stone dealers and other Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs).
According to the commission, more attention would be paid to the activities of some particular set of people like lawyers, car dealers, estate operators, precious stone dealers, accountants, and construction companies, because they have become avenues for money laundering.
The Press Nigeria reports that the Commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, said this at a workshop on financial crime reporting organised for journalists by the commission in Lagos.
The EFCC boss revealed the anti-graft agency’s plan to intensify its probe of the DNFBPs through its Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML) under the newly enacted Money Laundering Prohibition and Prevention Act, 2022.
Bawa furthered that “What we have seen time and time again is that some firms that are finding their way, various accounts that are there are being used for laundering and we have quite a number of cases to show for that.
“They can hide under the payment of fees to do that. But at the end of the day, investigations will reveal whether the payments that the legal practitioner received is the payment of fees or otherwise. They are getting smarter, and so are we.
“Luckily for us, we have a polygraph machine, a polygraph test will be able to tell us the truth, whether or not the monies that you received are payment for fees or otherwise.
“But, we have seen, for instance, a legal practitioner that is the one paying for (a suspect’s) ticket, he’s the one paying for his (children’s) school fees, he’s the one paying for almost everything.”
He was however optimistic that with access to technology such as a polygraph, the EFCC would be better equipped to dig out the truth.
Speaking further he said the new Money Laundering Prohibition and Prevention Act, 2022, will help renew the agency’s commitment to fighting more financial crimes as well as record more conviction rates.
Bawa pointed out that as of October 7, 2022, the commission had over 2,701 convictions, which he said was the highest ever recorded so far as against the 2,220 convictions recorded in 2021.
“Without sounding immodest, our record over the years distinguishes the EFCC as perhaps the most effective law enforcement agency in Nigeria. We have strived to up the ante since my appointment over one year ago.
“In my time in charge, we have engineered a number of reforms and restructuring whose impact is already being seen in the terms of the number of stolen assets recovery and convictions for financial crimes.
“In 2021, the Commission secured 2,220 convictions. This has jumped to 2,701 by October 7, 2022. Assets running into several billions of Naira have also been recovered by the commission,” the EFCC boss noted.
Bawa was however elated to announce that the commission had also recovered assets running into several billions of naira.