After months of worries, Nigeria’s suspension from the Egmont Group has finally been lifted. The move followed an unscheduled visit to the country to observe just how far Nigeria has made its Financial Intelligence Unit independent.
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit’s suspension from the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units has finally been lifted. This thankfully reopens the window of financial intelligence and expertise exchange between Nigeria’s NFIU and member countries' FIUs.#NFIUisBack
— McPherson Barristers & Solicitors (@McPhersonLegal) September 27, 2018
The Egmont Group is the international body that helps financial intelligence units (FIUs) from member-nations share information confidentially. With over 150 countries as members, the organization is extremely important for fighting fraud and uncovering terror financing.
However, despite several warnings, Nigeria earned the ire of the body. Nigeria was accused of failing to make its financial intelligence unit truly independent. Although the country did have a strong financial intelligence unit, it was under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Unfortunately, many believe the EFCC largely become a tool of the government to intimidate political opponents. The Commission is often accused of sharing confidential information and leaking sensitive materials to the press to embarrass political opponents. As a result, it made no sense for foreign intelligence units to share Intel with Nigeria’s unit since it would end up being misused.
Nigeria was threatened, first with suspension, and later expulsion if no action was taken to make the financial intelligence unit truly independent. But due to political deadlocks at the National Assembly, the matter was not taken very seriously. By July 2017, the country was finally suspended from the body.
Opened the 25th Egmont Group Plenary meeting in Sydney today. This important meeting of Financial Intelligence Units from across the world is vital to furthering our cause to combat money laundering and the financing of terror | https://t.co/vTxVJXCkcR #Egmont pic.twitter.com/HKZe0m1z8F
— Peter Dutton (@PeterDutton_MP) September 27, 2018
Talks of a suspension were mumbled in the lead up to the Egmont Group’s meeting in March in Argentina. Nigeria’s expulsion was reportedly on the cards for the meeting. However, nothing happened.
If we were expelled, Nigeria’s international transactions would have been at risk and would no longer be privy to the sensitive information shared at Egmont, including new fraud techniques, financial crimes, and terror financing.
At this point, the government began to take the matter seriously, albeit slowly. The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency Bill was debated and finally passed by the National Assembly.
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