Nigeria risk being expelled from the Egmont Group, Francis Usani, head of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), says.
Speaking in a press conference organized by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Abuja on Wednesday, Usani said the NFIU bill passed by the national assembly in July “had so many issues”.
The Egmont Group is a united body of 156 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), which provides a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorist financing
The group suspended Nigeria in July for failing to comply with its demands for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU, adding that if it fails to do so the country will be expelled in January 2018.
Usani said the National Assembly prevented him from contributing to the process of amending the NFIU bill in July.
He explained that the demand of the Egmont Group was an amendment of some sections of the EFCC Act to give the NFIU exclusivity and not the creation of an independent body.
“They (national assembly) told me whatever I am to contribute to that bill…. it has been passed…. the train has passed the station,” he said.
“Nigeria stands the risk of being expelled by the Egmont Group because you can’t have two FIUs. The EFCC does not oppose the operational independence of the FIU.
“If you look at the NFIU bill there are so many issues with it. For example, there is nowhere an FIU has a board of directors or can sue and be sued.”
If Nigeria get expelled from Egmont next year, the country will no longer be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other 153-member countries, including the US and the UK, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad will also be hampered.
It could also affect the international rating of Nigerian financial institutions.