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Promoting compliance culture in fight against corruption

By Gloria Nwafor
06 December 2022   |   10:41 am
With the changing global compliance landscape vis-à-vis renewed efforts by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the need for compliance professionals in combating crime, money laundering and terrorist financing has been brought to the fore. The need, experts said, is pertinent to bringing in professionals to enhance…

Haruna Mustafa

With the changing global compliance landscape vis-à-vis renewed efforts by the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the need for compliance professionals in combating crime, money laundering and terrorist financing has been brought to the fore.

The need, experts said, is pertinent to bringing in professionals to enhance compliance culture and weave into the fabric of citizens’ common existence.

They argued that if compliance culture was adequately enhanced in Nigeria, the issue of corruption that had eaten deep into the nation’s treasury would become a thing of the past.

Some of the corruption challenges highlighted, include the dynamic nature of financial crimes, emerging money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) threats, advancement in technology and changing international standards.

At the sixth induction and investiture ceremony of Compliance Institute, Nigeria (CIN), a body established to encourage, promote and revive the consciousness of compliance within the regulatory environment, the institute restated its commitment to the implementation of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) as preventive measures in the financial services sector.

Director, Banking Supervision Department, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Haruna Mustafa, said the issue of compliance could not be over-emphasised in any corporate entity, especially in the light of increasing security threats occasioned by cyber-attacks, financing of weapon of mass destruction, money laundering financing and other vices, which are inimical to economic growth and national development.

He lamented that the dearth of professional compliance officers in banks and other financial institutions remained a major challenge.

He said more banks and financial institutions that have come on board in recent times, increased the challenges the CBN and other regulators would face with respect to compliance with rules and regulations.

He called on the institute not to leave any stone unturned to develop robust mitigants in the risk factors peculiar to the financial sector, to ensure that criminals and saboteurs fail in their attempts to game the system.
He said the collaboration and support given by the CBN, underscores the importance of compliance in the sector.

He assured that the CBN would continue to partner with the institute to raise the bar, as the target remains zero tolerance for non-compliance with regulations.

Speaking on ‘Overview of the Compliance Institute, Nigeria’s Role in Strengthening the Compliance Function’, Director-General, Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), Edwin Harris, said compliance is central to safety, economic development, fight against corruption and elimination of illicit financial flow in every country.

Noting that Nigeria had set a pace for other countries in West Africa to follow, he said CIN was driving the cause in Africa.

He urged governments to provide detailed support in advancing the course on compliance to reduce corruption without having an impact on the financial system.

According to him, fighting corruption in the country requires the cooperation of these financial officers.

Immediate past Director, Valuation and Compliance, GIABA, Dr. Bunu Nduka, said Nigeria is blazing the trail, especially on compliance with respect to addressing money laundering and terrorism financing.

Expressing hope that in the next few years Nigeria would be fully compliant in addressing issues of money laundering and terrorism financing, he said the fight against money laundering was a dynamic process and with the level of compliance Nigeria had attained, “We hope that the crimes will become minimal, where Nigeria will become a safe and sound environment where to live.

“Today Nigeria has shown commitment by establishing the institute and it is our hope that within the next few years, Nigeria will continue to support other member states in the region to ensure the issue of compliance is addressed.

“From evaluation reports of member states, we see the significant impact of the institute and preventive measures are taken to ensure they are being guided in the conduct of financial businesses as well as those involved in non-financial businesses to become part of the institute.”

President, CIN, Pattison Boleigha, who noted that corruption and illicit funds flow is a major problem in Africa, said the institute’s target is to breed a set of compliance officers that would fight corruption headlong.

He said the theme ‘Compliance Culture and Corporate Governance: Role of Compliance Officers in the Public and Private Sector’, was apt, acknowledging the fact that the total decadence in Nigeria today was due to lack of compliance.

He stated that the institute would be able to bring the spirit of compliance back into the country.

According to him, “we position our breed of compliance officers to bring into play, new controls that can enable us to fight corruption and produce appropriate programmes, where they’ll build compliance programmes to fight corruption proactively.”

He said with the fresh crop of inductees, Nigeria would be adequately equipped to scale up in anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.

He said the event was another giant step towards actualising its efforts at instilling discipline and a culture of compliance in Nigeria.

He said the institute was borne out of a desire to close the identified capacity gap in compliance knowledge and the low level of a compliance culture in Nigeria and the African region.

The CIN boss said the institute plans to expand the cost of enhancing compliance culture in Nigeria beyond the financial industry to other sectors like oil and gas, telecommunications and manufacturing, among others to integrate the compliance issues in those sectors into its curriculum.

He revealed that CIN is currently pursuing its chartered status at the National Assembly and the Bill is going for a second reading.
He added that the institute is focused on getting the Bill passed into law before the end of the 9th Assembly.