The Basel Institute on Governance has rated Nigeria as a high-risk country for money laundering and terrorist financing.
Nigeria was rated 6.77 out of 10, with the country being 17th out of 128 countries.
The rating was contained in its report titled, ‘Basel AML Index 2022: 11th Public Edition – Ranking money laundering and terrorist financing risks around the world’.
The Basel AML Index is developed and maintained by the International Centre for Asset Recovery at the Basel Institute on Governance, which is an independent, international non-profit organisation dedicated to preventing and combating corruption and other financial crimes and to strengthening governance around the world.
The report further noted, “Countries with high risks of ML/TF often suffer from high risks of environmental crime.”
It was also noted that many countries were not doing enough to tackle the issue of money laundering and terrorist financing.
The report read in part, “When it comes to tackling dirty money, most countries are taking one step forward and four steps back – and remaining too many steps behind criminals seeking to launder illicit funds.
“Eleven years since the first publication of the Basel AML Index – a leading independent ranking of money laundering and terrorist financing risks in countries around the world – progress in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing remains paralysed.
“The average global money laundering risk according to this year’s Index is stuck at 5.25 out of 10, where 10 is the maximum risk level.”
It further said that governments were not keeping up the pace to catch up with criminals, who kept innovating.
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It read, “The good news is that governments, as well as financial institutions and other reporting entities, are generally getting better at assessing their risks of money laundering and applying a risk-based approach to address them.
“But in areas where criminals are moving fast and innovating, authorities are dragging their feet. The crypto sphere is one: average levels of compliance with international standards on risks from virtual assets are dropping dramatically as more countries are assessed.”
The PUNCH recently reported that the West African financial intelligence agency, Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering, said 300 casinos operating in Nigeria might be involved in money laundering.
This is as Nigeria is battling to stem terrorism financing amid the escalating attacks by terrorists from the Islamic State West Africa Province.
The body, established by the Economic Community of West African States, noted that money laundering risks to the casinos, which were operating mainly in Lagos and Abuja, were high.
It added that the gambling spots were mostly owned by foreigners from South Africa, China, Lebanon, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Earlier in the year, the Federal Government had said it uncovered 123 companies and 96 others linked to terrorism financing.
A security and risk assessment consultant, Kabir Adamu, said there were gaps in the Nigerian money laundering and terrorism financing laws but added that the objective of the Terrorism Prevention Act, which was amended a few months ago, was to align the nation’s terrorism law with international standards.
The PUNCH also reported that as part of its fresh move against money laundering, the Federal Government enforced a fine of N1m per day for any financial institution or non-financial business and profession that failed to report any suspicious transaction.
This is according to the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022, which the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), assented to and passed it into law.
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