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BDCs Prepare for FATF Team Assessment Visit

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By Udo Onyeka

Bureaux de Change (BDC) operators under the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) are preparing for the annual evaluation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) team visiting the country soon.

Speaking to financial journalists ahead of the FATF visit to Nigeria, ABCON President, Alhaji (Dr.

) Aminu Gwadabe, said BDCs are getting ready to receive the FATF team.
He said that ABCON, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is organizing a sensitization workshop for over 4,500 licenced BDCs in the country.

He said the workshop, which will hold in the six geopolitical zones across the country, will take off in the next one week.

He added that the BDCs will be trained on the obligation of registering and filling reports on the NFIU goAML -Anti-Money Laundering portal. 

Gwadabe, said the anti-money laundering training is intended to familiarize BDC operators with the process of money laundering — the criminal business used to disguise the true origin and ownership of illegal cash — and the laws that make it a crime.

He said that money laundering and terrorist financing pose not only a threat, but are enormous threats and challenges to the economy, security, and social life in Nigeria, the region and globally.

Gwadabe  said that the training was also meant to help BDCs maintain minimum standard of record keeping and increasing level of investors confidence for the economy.

The training, the ABCON boss added, will create awareness on the need to check money laundering and terrorist financing; ensure that BDCs are not used to launder funds by Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs). It will also upscale BDCs’ compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) for Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria Regulations.

Gwadabe said the visit became necessary after the FATF team in February, named Nigeria  in a proposed European Union blacklist of nations seen as posing a threat because of lax controls on terrorism financing and money laundering.

The criteria used to blacklist countries include low sanctions against money laundering and terrorism financing, insufficient cooperation with the EU on the matter and lack of transparency over the beneficial owners of companies and trusts.

Gwadabe said visit by the FATF team will enable it see new efforts by the country to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

He said that as the global body that sets standard for AML/CFT efforts, the FATF team will assess banks and other financial institutions compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures.

He said like other previous evaluations for the country, the FATF team will carry out checks at the branches of selected banks and BDCs across the country, adding that compliance at the airports and land borders may also come under their scrutiny.

Gwadabe said Nigeria has largely addressed its action plan by enacting legislation to adequately criminalise money laundering and terrorist financing, implementing procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets, ensuring that customer due diligence requirements apply to all financial instructions.

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NAICOM, RMAFC Collaborate on Economic Diversification 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Commissioner for Insurance and CEO, Mr. Olusegun Ayo Omosehin, and his management team have met with the members of the Constitutional Committee on “Mobilisation and Diversification” of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission ( RMAFC) led by Engr.

Sani Mohammed Baba, to explore ways of diversifying the Nigerian economy.
 

During their working visit to NAICOM Headquarters, Mr.

Olusegun Ayo Omosehin, in his opening remarks, reaffirmed the critical role of the insurance sector regulator in supervising, regulating, and safeguarding the interests of insurance policyholders. 

He highlighted insurance’s pivotal role in mobilising savings for long-term developmental projects and enabling businesses to thrive while managing risks effectively.

 

He also stressed the Commission’s commitment to ensuring insurance companies meet their obligations, thus contributing to the sustainability of the economy.

Speaking, Mohammed Baba emphasised the importance of revenue generation, institutional expansion, and employment creation for Nigerians through collaborative efforts.

The Commissioner for Insurance also acknowledged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ambitious goal of growing the Nigerian economy to One Trillion United States Dollars ($1 trillion) by 2026. 

He expressed the insurance sector’s intent to significantly contribute to this objective. Additionally, he mentioned ongoing efforts to embed insurance within the National Credit Scheme to ensure its sustainability.

Omosehin stressed the need for continuous advocacy and sensitization of government institutions about the vital role of insurance in national economic development.

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CBN Unveils Strategy to Boost Remittances, Grants AIP To 14 New IMTOs

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has activated plans to double foreign-currency remittance flows through formal channels by granting 14 new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) Approval-in-Principle (AIP).

This was disclosed in Abuja on Wednesday, by the Bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Mrs.

Hakama Sidi Ali, who stated that the initiative will help increase the sustained supply of foreign exchange in the official market by promoting greater competition and innovation amongst IMTOs to lower the cost of remittance transactions and boost financial inclusion.
 

She said, “This will spur liquidity in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEX), augmenting price discovery to enable a market-driven fair value for the naira.

“It will be recalled that the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, had recently declared: “We’ve set ourselves a target to double remittance flows into Nigeria within a year, a goal I firmly believe is within reach. 

“We are wasting no time driving progress to remove any bottlenecks hindering flows through formal channels permanently. We have a determined pathway and a sequenced approach to tackling all challenges ahead, working hand in hand with key stakeholders in the remittance industry,” she stated.

Continuing, Sidi Ali, said that the CBN viewed increasing formal remittance flows—one of the major sources of foreign exchange, accounting for over 6% of GDP—as a means of reducing the historical volatility in Nigeria’s exchange rate caused by external factors, such as fluctuations in foreign investment and oil export proceeds.

The increase in the number of IMTOs is one of the primary actions initiated by the CBN’s remittance task force, overseen by Governor Cardoso as a collaborative unit pulling together specialists to work closely with the private sector and market operators to facilitate the ease of doing business in the remittance ecosystem in Nigeria. 

The task force was established as a direct result of an executive learning session with IMTOs during the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings held in Washington DC, United States of America, in April 2024. The task force will meet regularly to implement strategy and monitor the impact of its measures on remittance inflows.

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Tinubu Inaugurates Critical Gas Projects, Reassures Energy Sector Investors

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By Matthew Dadiya, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has reassured investors in the energy sector of his administration’s resolve to further enhance the business environment and ensure investment convenience.

The President spoke Wednesday at the inauguration of three milestone projects, including the expanded AHL Gas Processing Plant; the ANOH Gas Processing Plant, and the 23.

3km ANOH – Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Custody Transfer Metering Station Gas Pipeline.

In a speech during the virtual inauguration of the projects at the State House, Tinubu also assured citizens that his administration is stepping up its coordination of other landmark projects and initiatives that will ensure the earliest realization of gas-fueled prosperity in the country.

 

The President, according to a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, noted that the projects were fully in line with the Decade of Gas Initiative and his administration’s vision to grow value from the nation’s abundant gas assets, while concurrently eliminating gas flaring and accelerating industrialization. 

“This event is highly significant to our country as it demonstrates the administration’s concerted efforts to accelerate the development of critical gas infrastructure geared at significantly enhancing the supply of energy to boost industrial growth and create employment opportunities.

“It is pleasing that when these projects become fully operational, approximately 500MMscf of gas in aggregate will be supplied to the domestic market from these two gas processing plants, which represents over 25% incremental growth in gas supply. 

“In practical terms, this is more gas to the power sector, gas-based industries, and other critical segments of the economy. I, therefore, commend the strategic vision of the NNPC Limited and its partners, Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) and Seplat Energy Plc, for this laudable and value-adding projects,” President Tinubu said.

The President said his government remains determined in its bid to leverage the nation’s vast gas capacity to drive economic growth. 

“Aside from the presidential CNG initiative which is aimed at moving the good people of Nigeria away from petrol and diesel as vehicular combustion fuel, significant progress has also been recorded in incentivizing gas development through Presidential Directives.

“The theme of this inauguration – ‘From Gas to Prosperity; Renewed Hope’, must be adopted by all gas-sector participants and would-be investors as a clarion call to ramp up efforts to accelerate investment and developments of projects in the gas sector on a win-win basis.

“I would once again commend the efforts of NNPC Ltd, alongside SEEPCO and Seplat Energy, on this business partnership initiative, and congratulate you all on the successful implementation of the three projects,” the President said.

President Tinubu also reiterated his government’s resolve to continue to provide support in deepening domestic gas utilization, increase national power generation capacity, revitalize industries, and create multiple job opportunities for economic growth.

“Today, I have the singular honour to inaugurate the expansion of the AHL Gas Processing Plant, the ANOH Gas Processing Plant, and the 23.3Km ANOH to Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Custody Transfer Metering Station Gas Pipeline Projects in line with my administration’s resolve to provide energy for Nigerians, and to use our vast natural gas resources to transform Nigeria,” the President stated.

May 15, 2024

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