The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has placed some designated non-financial institutions on surveillance for Illegal Financial Flows (IFFs).
They include casinos, estate agents, professional bodies and associations, car dealers, hotels and super markets.
The anti-graft agency took the decision after intelligence reports pointed the institutions were helping perpetrators of economic and financial crimes to launder illicit funds.
The agency’s Director of operations, Olaolu Adegbite, disclosed at the weekend during a two-day “Second Sub-regional Workshop on Curbing IFFs from Africa” in Accra, Ghana.
Adegbite noted that the EFCC, Federal Ministry of Commerce and other agencies were working together to stop criminal activities in such designated non-financial institutions.
IFF is money illegally earned, transferred or used.
At origin or during movement or use, the flow of money has broken laws and is considered illicit.
It is different from capital flight, which is understood as the movement of funds abroad to secure better returns, often as a response of unfavourable business climate in the country of origin.
Nigeria topped four other countries in IFFs with $89.5 billion as the highest outflow measured followed by Egypt ($70.5 billion); Algeria ($25.7 billion); Morocco ($25 billion) and South Africa ($24.9 billion).
A report by Mbeki’s high level panel on IFFs said they played a large and detrimental role in the challenge of resource generation.
In the case of Nigeria, it said: “We remain concerned about the effectiveness of the relevant institutions, including the lack of cooperation and coherent operations among the various agencies.”
Adegbite said the agency was committed to tackling illicit financial crimes since they were at the root of Nigeria’s and African nations’ financial resources flows to other continents, poverty and under-development.
He said the nation’s international borders had been strengthened with crack detectives with the agency collaborating with other national and international economic and financial crime-fighting bodies.
“We are silently collaborating and sharing intelligence with Presidential Taskforce on Cash Smuggling, Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), other border agencies, Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (Designated Non-financial Institutions) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Trade as well as international economic and financial crime-fighting bodies,” he explained.
The aim of such collaboration, he said, was “to ensure that law on financial crimes are enforced, such crimes stopped, perpetrators of economic and financial crimes brought to justice and such illicit proceeds confiscated”.
The EFCC chief noted that the motive of all economic and financial crimes “is about money, profit and greed”, adding activities like money laundering and diversion of funds through corrupt activities account for IFFs in Africa.
Adegbite said the magnitude of such crimes confronting Nigeria and other African countries could not be solved through enforcement alone.
”Rather, it has to be through a combination of everything, including what the high-level panel chaired by the former President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, stands for.
“Other government agencies, international organisations, countries and the media must also add bites to anti-corruption war too,” the commission’s director of operations said.
Adegbite explained that the EFCC was determined to ensure the funds from IFFs and other corrupt practices were prevented from going out of the country.
”Once the funds get out, it is always difficult to return,” he said.
But Adegbite said the EFCC and other security agencies were collaborating and sharing information, adding that such partnership could not be made known to the public.
He mentioned the successes achieved by members of presidential taskforce in arresting some passengers trying to smuggle millions of dollars out at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport and others.
According to him, the taskforce members later handed over the suspects to EFCC for prosecution.