President Buhari seeks more laws, penalty on money laundering

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

The Nigerian Senate on Wednesday received a letter from President Muhammadu Buhari seeking to enact Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2016 and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2016.

Presenting the letter on the floor of the Senate chamber, the Senate President Bukola Saraki, said that the proposed bill provides for the repeal of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act 2011, as amended in 2012.

The proposed money laundering bill seeks to provide adequate penalty for money laundering while also increasing the scope of anti-money laundering agencies, such as the EFCC and the ICPC.

 “This Bill seeks to make comprehensive provisions to prohibit the laundering of the criminal activities, expand the scope of money laundering offences. It seeks to provide protection for employees of various institutions, bodies and professions who may discover money laundering, enhance customer due diligence.

 “It provides appropriate penalties and expands the scope of supervisory bodies.

It also recognises the role of certain self-regulatory organisations to address the challenges faced in implementation of comprehensive anti-money regime,” it read.

On its part, the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Bill 2016 seeks to get relevant international assistance in cases of money laundering.

The Bill is expected to provide framework for other countries to assist in provision of and obtaining of evidence, making of arrangements for persons to give evidence.

“The bill also hopes to elicit international assistance in criminal investigations, recovery, forfeiture or confiscation of property in respect of offences. It also sought assistance in the restraining of dealings in property or the freezing of assets that may be recovered, forfeited or confiscated in respect of offences.

“The execution of request for search and seizure, the location and identification of witnesses and suspects, the service of documents and other matters connected herewith,” the letter stated.

It would be recalled that President Buhari during his recent visit to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) signed an agreement with the UAE government on repatriation of stolen funds. The agreement: Mutual Legal Assistance on Criminal and Commercial Matters will also allow the UAE government to return monies hidden or invested in banks and real estates in the country.

2016 Appropriation Bill

Meanwhile, debate on the 2016 appropriation bill ended on Wednesday, as it also passed second reading during the Senate plenary session. It was subsequently referred to the Senate committee on appropriations from where further considerations will take effect.

According to a draft time table for the consideration and passage of the 2016 appropriation bill, the budget hearing (meeting of sub-committees on appropriation with MDAs) is scheduled for Thursday 28th January to Thursday 11th February, 2016.

The submission and defence of reports of sub-committees on appropriation is scheduled for Friday 12th to Thursday 18th February, 2016, while by February 22nd, the appropriations committee is expected to collate and harmonise reports, and draw up the bill ahead of submission to the Senate in plenary.

Wednesday 24th February is scheduled for the laying of the report of the committee on appropriations before the senate in plenary, and 25th February is fixed for the consideration of report and passage of the 2016 appropriation bill.