Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, on Monday, reassured of the agency’s commitment to combating money laundering and terrorism financing in the real estate sector of the economy.
Mr Bawa said this in Abuja at a workshop organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), the commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, said.
He disclosed that a Nigeria Evaluation Report revealed that the country’s real estate sector is the second most vulnerable to money laundering.
He listed vulnerable cities to include Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, and Lagos, among the major cities where the property is regularly purchased, mostly in cash and often in foreign currencies.
Acknowledging that no one has been questioning the legality of such transactions, the EFCC chairman assured the commission would be going all out to investigate money laundering in the real estate industry where billions of naira were laundered in the sector.
Besides, a 2020 report by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), a Transparency International (TI) affiliate, fingered cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt as major black spots for high-level capital flights, with media and court reports pointing to the involvement of criminals running fraud syndicates, drug trafficking, and property buying and development.
The report added that money launderers and criminals used third parties, professionals, family members, and close acquaintances to obtain high-value real estate, saying buyers commonly open accounts using pseudonyms to transfer illegal monies into high-value real estate purchases.
At the event, Mr Bawa, who spoke through his Chief of Staff, Hadiza Zubairu, said EFCC would leave no stone unturned in combating money laundering practices in the real estate sector.
“Just last year in July, the EFCC launched an App called ‘The Eagle Eye’ which has eased the processes of reporting economic and financial crimes and also exposed the flow of illicit funds in the real estate sector. “This has provided useful intelligence to show the level of commitment that the EFCC has in the real estate sector,” she said.
She reiterated the readiness of the EFCC to collaborate with relevant stakeholders in its efforts toward combating the menace while also strengthening the capacity of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) to effectively discharge its responsibilities in enforcing compliance in the real estate sector.