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By Emmanuel Daudu, Abuja

The Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, SAN, has said that the  Fight Against Financial Crime would be difficult to win without the support of Professional bodies, stating that there is a need for result-oriented policies, programs alongside transparency and accountability from both the government and the professionals, professional bodies in the execution and strategies outlined to best suit the plan.

Itse made this known in a one-day zoom conference organised by PACAC with the theme: “the roles of professionals and professional bodies in combating financial”, held on Friday.

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) however was established in August 2015, with the mandate to promote the reform agenda of the government on the anti-corruption effort and to advise the present administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption and the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria’s criminal justice system. PACAC is supported by a 7-member Technical Committee.

Earlier, in a release made available to journalists, the Executive Secretary of the Committee, Isah Radda  has stated that, recent developments in the country have made the roles of professionals in Nigerian’s quest to combat financial crimes very important.

According to him, “The stoppage of the sale of forex to the Bureau de Change by the Central Bank of Nigeria due to repeated foreign exchange round-tripping: the introduction of Nigeria e-money to provide a viable alternative for currency transaction in the country”.

He added that professionals have enormous roles to play in the anti-corruption sector.

“These roles could be in form of helping clients make an informed decision through experts’ opinion and advisories”.

The keynote speaker, Professor Segun Ajibola Ph.D., FCIB, FCTI, FICA, F.IoD, FERP, FFAR, CRM, MNES, LLB, BL
Past President, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (Representing, Surv Akin Oyegbola, President, Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria) in his lecture, he said, on the subject matter of financial crimes
It usually involves a complex web of professionals such as bankers, information technology experts, accountants, estate managers, developers, etc who at one time or the other help to warehouse the proceeds of financial crimes to further an unwholesome intent.
“Those involved in money laundering also drag security operatives, customs, and immigration officials, etc. along with them; Financial crimes could have both domestic and international dimensions as most large-scale crimes utilize global interconnectivity to warehouse such proceeds. Why are Professionals and Professional Bodies so prone to financial crimes? Often, the professionals lack the requisite training to assure capacity and capability to recognize criminal intent; Many professional bodies do not have up to date competency framework to bring their members to currency; If there is no code of conduct to bring the professionals to conformity with agreed standards, or the code is weak or inoperative;
Financial crimes will remain a challenge if the disciplinary procedures in the professional bodies are not sufficiently deterrent to members”.

Profounding mitigations, he resolved that Professional Bodies must fight the problem of quackery in their respective professions; and when quacks are discovered, they must be exposed within a twilight. “Indeed, this is not a battle that can be fought solely by the professionals and their bodies only. Government institutions such as the judiciary, security operatives, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies must cooperate with the bodies to fight financial crimes;
Professionals must succumb to training and Continued Compulsory Professional Development as organized by their Bodies to keep abreast of current developments in the professions; Risk Management culture in professional institutions such as banks must be proactive to detect and prevent financial and related crimes that may confront them; More investment in financial crime preventive technology as financial criminals continue to mutate to beat operators and regulators in the financial industry; Professional bodies must continue to upscale their ‘fit and proper criteria for admission into the professions to ward off members lacking in integrity and goodness of character; People’s risk must continue to be viewed with all the seriousness it deserves especially in the banking and finance industry. No gainsaying the fact that the issue of adequate remuneration, temporary staffing, etc need be reviewed from time to time as most financial crimes in banks are often traceable to the so-called temporary staff; The Charter that established professional bodies must compel them to enforce disciplinary measures against their members for involvement in financial crimes within the ambit of the provisions of the Charter; Corporate and individual members of a profession must be compelled to report detected unwholesome practices to the professional body and subject the member to the statutory disciplinary procedure of the body, and where necessary to report such infractions by members to the law enforcement agencies; Professional bodies must encourage stiff sanctions against their members found to have been involved in financial crimes.
Professional Bodies and their members must always show readiness to obey the provisions of the extant local and international laws towards combating financial crimes such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Act 2004 (as amended); Independent Corrupt Practices Act 2004 (as amended); Anti-Money Laundering Act 2004 (as amended); the Vienna Convention, The Financial Action Task Force, the Laws against drug trafficking, policies and regulations on cash movements across borders, human trafficking, etc”.

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