Eniola Akinkuotu, Abuja

The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, says there is a top politician that is planning to repatriate funds into the country ahead of next month’s general elections.

Magu said the politician had earlier denied ownership of a property when attempts were made to confiscate it, but the unnamed person has sold it and is planning on repatriating it to Nigeria.

The EFCC boss said this at a meeting with the Association of Chief Conduct and Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria on Thursday.

He, therefore, urged compliance officers to assist the Commission in curbing the inflow of illicit funds by reporting suspicious transactions to the EFCC.

Magu said, “Foreign properties bought with proceeds of crime are sold and the proceeds transferred to Nigeria through international banks as legitimate funds that can be used to finance several activities including elections.

“Recently we have received intelligence report from a sister agency in another country informing us of a top Nigerian politician who has sold his property in that country and intends to repatriate the proceeds of the sale of the property to Nigeria. This same individual had earlier denied ownership of the said property.

“Goods bought with proceeds of crime abroad are sent to Nigeria to support empowerment programs during elections periods. The goods are mostly cleared with deficient trade documents processed through the international banks.”

Explaining how money laundering is done, Magu said corrupt persons move the proceeds of crime earlier taken across border to neighbouring countries back to Nigeria by depositing such funds in banks with corresponding banking relationship with local banks in Nigeria.

He said these funds can be used to finance elections in the country by physical distribution of the funds for political inducement or financing empowerment schemes to solicit votes from citizens.

The EFCC boss said private bankers for international banks facilitate the movement of proceeds of crime through physical movements of cash to the country via charted airlines.

Magu added, “International banks facilitate the purchase of assets such as airlines from foreign jurisdictions that are brought to the country for elections purpose.”

He said the anti-graft agency would do everything to check vote buying but added that this could only be attained through the cooperation of all stakeholders.

The EFCC boss added, “While vote buying is subject to punishment, the attainment of compliance to this legal obligation remains the challenge and it is our responsibility to prevent these crimes. We have come to realise that political inducement has now taken other forms and tagged in different names, i.e. Stomach Infrastructure, empowerment schemes, non-interest yielding loans, outright cash handouts etc. this inducements take place during or before the day of the elections, which makes it rather difficult for law enforcement agencies to track.

“Because you are the gate keepers, you must keep your eyes open to this inducement schemes, your obligations are not different from your usual filing of suspicious transactions reports to the relevant authorities, and the prompt filing of currency transaction reports as well as foreign transaction reports.”