Why We Included Nigeria In 23 ‘Dirty Money’ Blacklist - EU
Why We Included Nigeria In 23 ‘Dirty Money’ Blacklist - EU

The European Union has given reasons why they included Nigeria in the expanded 23 ‘dirty money’ blacklist released last Wednesday. The Commission said the Nigerian authorities had failed to take steps to strengthen the nation’s anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regimes despite the menace.

The Commission, on February 13 listed Panama, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia as fresh additions to the list of countries that have not done little or nothing to address the high rate of money laundering and terrorist financing.

The EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Vera Jourová, said the list was an update of third world countries the EU identified earlier as jurisdictions where money laundering and terrorism financing are allowed to flourish. The new categorisation, was perhaps, a direct response to the assessment of the impact of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists’ Panama Papers investigation.

The global investigations, which spanned over a year, were conducted by over 100 media organisations across the world. The investigations, which covered financial transactions of various offshore entities, exposed hundreds of companies linked to more than 140 politicians, businessmen and world leaders in more than 50 countries.

The 23 countries include 12 listed by the Financial Action Task Force and 11 additional jurisdictions. Some of the countries were already among 16 on the current EU list issued since July 2018.

A total of six African countries on the new list, include Libya, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Ghana, and Nigeria. Also on the list are five Middle East countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

Others from the far-East region, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Puerto Rico, Samoa, American Samoa, Guam, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Bahamas joining Panama on the list in the Caribbean Sea or South Pacific regions.

In 2018, Chairman of the Africa Union high-level panel on Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) and former South African President, Thabo Mbeki, said Africa’s annual loss through IFFs increased from $50 billion in 2015 to over $80 billion.

This was as the Chairman of Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Tunde Fowler, said at least 40 per cent of the total IFFs in Africa, come from Nigeria. The Commission said the new list followed a review of the process of these third world countries with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks.

The decision, the Commission said, was to protect the EU financial system by better preventing money laundering and terrorist financing risks. Under the new arrangement, the Commission said banks and other financial entities covered by EU anti-money laundering rules would be required to apply increased due diligence on financial operations involving customers and financial institutions from the affected countries.

Mr Jourová said although the Commission has established the strongest anti-money laundering standards in the world to ensuring dirty money from other countries did not find its way to the EU financial system.

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