Nigeria calls for Tech solutions to curb illicit finances in West Africa

Illicit financial flows pose serious threat to the sub-region which is facing rising cases of money laundering and terrorism.

Nigeria has called on member states of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) to employ modern technologies to combat illicit financial flows in the sub-region.

Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, made the call on Tuesday in Abuja. He spoke during the 2023 summit for Compliance Officers in the sub-region with the theme: “Intersection of technology and anti-money laundering; combating of financing of terrorism and proliferation”.

Fagbemi, who is also the Chairman of the GIABA Ministerial Committee, said illicit financial flows pose serious threat to the sub-region which is facing rising cases of money laundering and terrorism. According to him, member countries should prioritise the deployment of new technologies to address the threats.

In his remarks, the Director-General of GIABA, Edwin Harris, said although technology offered new ways to prevent crimes related to money laundering and counter-terrorism financing, it also presents some challenges.

He said new technologies on anti-money laundering must to reflect threats and opportunities, and be compatible with the international standards of data protection, privacy and cyber security.

According to him, this is important to promote effective implementation of laws against money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation.

“We believe that in this era of rapid technological advancement, technology plays major role in anti-money laundering and financing of terrorism and proliferation compliance and in strengthening safety of global financial system.

“The pace of technology has continued to advance significantly in recent years, bringing with it hosts of technologies such as data analytics and machine learning, which promise improved safety analytic compliance,” Harris stated.

In his remarks, Tukur Mobibbo, the Director of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), said countries and financial institutions should use technology to identify and assess money laundering terrorism financing risks.

Mobibbo, who was represented by Muhammad Jaya, Associate-Director, Analysis and Compliance Directorate of NFIU, said financial crimes are dynamic and across borders.

“In West African countries in terms of new technologies, only one country out of the seventeen countries have compliance, seven have partial-compliance, and nine which is 52% have none compliance in new technology.

“Globally, out of the ten most impacted countries in terms of terrorism and financing of terrorism, four are from West Africa.

“This is to underscore the importance of this great summit; we have continued to use technology to leverage technology in the coordination and fights against money laundering and terrorism financing,” he added.

According to him, Nigeria has deployed crime record information system into more than 40 competent authorities in the country and is leveraging technology to fight woes in crypto currency transactions.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the summit was a platform for the participants to share experiences, and foster collaboration and cooperation in the use of technology to curb money laundering, terrorism financing and its proliferation.

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