The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Abdulrasheed Bawa, has urged the National Assembly to retain the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML) in the commission for effiency.
Bawa made the call during the public hearing organised by the Senate joint Committees on Anti- Corruption and Financial Crimes, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters as well as Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions.
The proposed bills are (i) Money Laundering ( Prevention and Prohibition ) 2021, (ii) Public Complaints Commission ( Repeal and Re – enactment ) Bill 2022 and ( iii) Proceeds of Crimes ( Recovery and Management )Bill 2021.
Bawa who was represented by the secretary of the Commission, Dr. George Ekpungu said their request is for the national assembly to passe SB 789.
“Our reasons being that the said bill which seeks to confer legal personality on SCUML and retain its operation under the EFCC, promotes efficiency in the conduct of government business as it would leverage on existing structures and personnel.
“However, passing SB 642 comes with additional financial burden on the nation due to the fact that it demands the creation and setting up of a new Bureau for money laundering control with antecedent start-up and running cost,” EFCC said while rejecting the creation of a bureau.
“In addition, SCUML under the EFCC has become a brand name regarding the regulation of non-financial businesses and professions, therefore passing SB. 642 would be disruptive of the existing regime, while this will clearly not be the situation with the passing of SB. 789 as the transition will be entirely seamless,” the commission added.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also kicked against plan by the Senate to enact new anti – money laundering laws without required amendments on the existing Money Laundering (Prevention) Act 2011.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said an amendment of the existing Money Laundering ( Prevention ) Act 2011, will better serve the interest of Nigeria than a repeal and re – enactment.
Emefiele who was represented by a Director in the Apex bank , Mr Chibuzor Anthony Efobi said : ” Where the existing Money Laundering ( Prevention) Act 2011, is repealed and re – enacted , there would be new legal foundations which have not been assessed against the FATF standards”
This , according to him, opens the likelihood that the new law will be deficient in other areas not limited to the deficiencies identified in the Mutual Evaluation Report .
“Additionally , the new law will have to be completely reviewed by the FATF and GIABA for compliance with FATF recommendations .
“There will be a risk that the international assessment identifies new gaps which would lead to rating downgrades .
” Consequently , the CBN is opposed to the passage of the proposed bills for the repeal and re – enactment of the existing Money Laundering ( Prevention) Act 2011. We have attached a copy of a proposed amendment to the 2011 Act for your consideration and necessary action”, he stressed.
On establishment of Commission for management of Proceeds of Crimes being sought for by the third bill, while the Secretary of EFCC , George Ekpungu , kicked against the proposal , the Deputy Director Legal Drafting from the office of AGF, Godwin Iheabunike , supported the proposal.
The Chairman of the joint committee , Senator Suleiman Abdu Kwari (APC Kaduna North) said the proposed legislations were aimed at strengthening the fight against corruption in the country.