Harris of GIABA, Maida of NCC, other speakers offer pathways to tackling financial crimes

Guests/Panelists at the lecture on Tuesday in Lagos

 By Anthony Isibor

THE speakers at the Realnews 11th Anniversary Lecture on Tuesday in Lagos have identified the huge economic and social impacts of financial crimes and the link of financial crimes with violent crimes that lead to loss of lives.

They also noted that illicit funds flow has become the major source of terrorism financing today in the world.

According to Aminu Maida, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, these crimes threaten the integrity, trustworthiness, stability, security, safety, and future of an entity, country, enterprise and individuals.

The NCC boss described financial crimes as all criminal activities that involve transactions, abuse, misuse, deception, or manipulation of financial systems for personal gain.

Maida, who was ably represented by Reuben Muoka, the Public Affairs Director of the NCC, also noted that these offences cover a wider range of crimes such as insider abuse, money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation financing, and embezzlement, fraud (e-fraud, banking, securities, corporate and intellectual property.

He, however, called for increased adoption of Information and Communication Technology, ICT in curbing this wide range of crimes.

According to him, this has become necessary due to the emergence of new technologies, the often-transnational nature of these crimes, the scope of financial crimes, which has broadened and created further concerns.

He noted that robust ICT systems are critical for preventing/investigating financial crimes or mitigating the risks associated with virtual assets in financial markets.

“These systems facilitate compliance with established standards or regulations, they also provide a platform that allows the monitoring, tracing and analyzing of digital transactions in real-time. ICT systems support secure data storage and encryption technologies, which are critical for safeguarding sensitive financial data.

“To combat financial crimes, innovative solutions such as blockchain, instant payments, artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, regulatory technology solutions, and automated procedures are being deployed. The use of technological tools has made it significantly easier to deal with financial crime while building a long term strategy for combating it,” he said.

However, Maida also disclosed that while ICT has transformed the fight against financial crime, there are still difficulties that must be addressed collaboratively

He noted that as ICT systems get more complex, cybercriminal activities also do the same because criminal actors take advantage of the inherent and emerging flaws identified in the ICT systems, exploit these flaws and cause harm.

Another reason, according to him, is that relying too much on automated systems for crime detection might result in false positives, in which innocent people or transactions are identified as suspects.

Similarly, Edwin W. Harris Jr. Director-General of the ECOWAS Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering In West Africa, GIABA, called on African leaders to step up efforts in the fight against Illicit Financial Flows, IFF, in the region.

Harris, who was the guest speaker at the lecture made the call while speaking on the theme “The Threats of Illicit Financial Flow to the African Economy”.

He pointed out that IFFs are systemic problems requiring systemic solution and as such, African leaders cannot afford to relax in the fight against a cankerworm that threatens their sustainable development.

The DG disclosed that IFFs from Africa typically originates from three sources, which are: Corruption, including money acquired through bribery and abuse of office by public sector and private sector officials.

”Others are criminal activities, ranging from trafficking in people and drugs, arms smuggling, fraud in the financial sector, such as unauthorised or unsecured loans, money laundering, stock market manipulation and outright forgery, and commercial activities, arising from business-related activities, and having several purposes, including hiding wealth, evading or aggressively avoiding tax, and dodging customs duties and domestic levies.

In his remarks, Felix Obiamalu, Associate Director of Legal and Sanctions, Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, stated that IFF is a menace that has eaten deep into the Nigerian system and urged the government at all levels to lead by showing the political will to destroy it and promote the whistle blower mentality among the citizens.

He also called on the federal government to establish a clear and up-to-date policy and guidelines on how to combat IFF in Nigeria.


-November 08, 2023 @ 14:15 GMT |