By Monday Ijeh
Abuja – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Wednesday urged operators in the real estate sector to imbibe the culture of reporting transactions to discourage the use of the sector for money laundering.
Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the EFCC said this in Abuja at the opening of a one-day sensitisation workshop on Anti-money Laundering and Terrorism Financing.
The workshop was organised by EFCC in collaboration with the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) for stakeholders in the real estate sector.
Magu, represented by Mr Francis Usani, the Director, Nigeria Financial Intelligence unit of EFCC, also called on stakeholders to imbibe the culture of keeping records of transactions to promote transparency in the sector.
He said that available records had shown that the real estate sector had become a platform used by criminals to launder dirty funds beside the banks and other financial institutions.
According to him, with record of transactions, we can at any point in time when called upon, give information about who owns the property under our control.
He added that “over time, it has been observed that we compromise our integrity by trying to shield owners of properties and this is not in the interest of the country.
“It is your responsibility to, at any given point in time, have the records of the true owners of the properties we are managing.
“One basic thing is that, when you prevent a criminal from gaining the benefit of his or her crime, he or she will definitely be deterred from committing another offence.
“If you shield him or her, you are as guilty as the criminal because you will be charged along.”
The EFCC boss said that the essence of the workshop was to sensitise stakeholders on the need to support the commission through records of transactions to curb money laundering.
He urged the participants to set out ideas that would ensure that public interest was placed above personal interests in their transactions.
“You are enjoined to, at any given time, make national interest paramount to whatever personal interest you may derive from transaction.
“NIESV is an important partner to the EFCC and you have a duty to report to us if you come across criminal activities in the course of your duty.
“It behooves on you as practitioners to always ensure that when you see an illegal activity being carried out by either your members or those we see as quacks, you have to report to us,” he said. (NAN)