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NDIC Partners Law Enforcement Agents To Tackle Financial Crimes

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The need to establish a special court to hear and determine matters relating to banking malpractices and designation of some judges and courts to hear such cases exclusively has been identified as key to fighting financial crimes in Nigeria.

This was one of the recommendations contained in a 17 point communiqué issued at the end of a special capacity building workshop for law enforcement agencies organised by the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) at the Golden Tulip Hotels in Lagos, Nigeria.

As part of the Corporation’s Corporate Social Responsibility, the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation initiated the Capacity Building Workshop for Law Enforcement Agencies in recognition of the importance of synergy between Law Enforcement Agencies and Prosecutors in Nigeria for a successful fight against all forms of financial crimes. The workshop provided the platform for participants to interact and share ideas and experiences on how best to be more efficient and implement best practices for combating financial crimes, especially banking malpractices in Nigeria.

NDIC Director Legal Department, Mr. Belema A. Taribo delivering his paper

NDIC Director Legal Department, Mr. Belema A. Taribo delivering his paper

With the theme, “Investigation and Prosecution of Financial Crimes in Insured Institutions,” the event which held on 26th and 27th October 2017 was attended by fifty-four (54) participants drawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC); Federal Ministry of Justice (FMJ); Federal Ministry of Finance (FMF); Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Financial Malpractices Investigation Unit (FMIU) and the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU).

A total of eight papers were presented at the workshop by experienced and erudite scholars in various fields drawn from Banking Regulation, Law Enforcement and Legal Practice.

NDIC Deputy Director Legal Department, Mr.Kojo Abdulsalam-Alada addressing participarts

NDIC Deputy Director Legal Department, Mr.Kojo Abdulsalam-Alada addressing participants

Some of the issues and challenges raised and addressed at the workshop were: the inadequate lawyer’s/prosecutor’s input at inception of Police investigation; lack of adequate protection for witnesses; the lack of advancements and use of digital technology in criminal investigation, lack of capacity building geared towards improving skill gaps among Law Enforcement Agencies and poor collaboration among stakeholders in the fight against banking malpractices and the Inability of closing officers to determine, identify and retrieve vital documents needed for a successful investigation/prosecution.

The workshop also deliberated on the poor record keeping of case files and exhibits, slow pace of trials at the Federal High Court leading to delays in the administration of criminal justice, weak coordination between the primary departments of CBN saddled with the duty of addressing FOREX issues, poor corporate governance, non-adherence to credit policy resulting in high incidence of non-performing loans, low appreciation of basic accounting records and entries by lawyers, prosecutors and investigators, the need for the National Assembly to expedite passage of legislations on economic and financial issues, low level of cooperation between foreign banks and domestic law enforcement agencies and regulators in combating FOREX malpractices.

Other issues deliberated upon include the knowledge gap in the operations of FOREX market by law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, lack of integrity among stakeholders in cases where witnesses and sometimes, even lawyers compromise cases, unrealistic penalties for financial crimes and the inadequate compliance with KYC (Know Your Customer) requirements.

The event gave stakeholders in attendance a platform to share ideas and proffer solutions to these issues inhibiting the fight against financial crimes in Nigeria.
At the end of the event, the workshop arrived at the following recommendations and resolutions: the first being that the Police hierarchy be encouraged to deploy lawyers and other officers with special skills (IT, forensic, Forex and finance) within the Police force to the FMIU/PSFU, continuous capacity building for investigators and prosecutors. Stakeholders insisted there is a need for more effective collaboration through regular interactions, sharing of information (e.g. creation of internet platform) in order to enhance synergy amongst stakeholders involved in the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes. NDIC and the Federal Ministry of Justice were saddled with the responsibility of following up on the Witness Protection Bill for its speedy passage.

NDIC Director Bank Examination Department, Mr. Adedapo A. Adeleke & Director Legal Department, Mr. Belema A. Taribo

NDIC Director Bank Examination Department, Mr. Adedapo A. Adeleke & Director Legal Department, Mr. Belema A. Taribo

It was recommended that Law Enforcement Agencies set up digital/forensic laboratories to enhance proper investigations of financial and related crimes and implement the digitalisation of case-files and exhibits.

The workshop suggested that there is the need to establish a special court to hear and determine matters relating to banking malpractices stressing that, “in the meantime, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court should be prevailed upon to designate some Judges/Courts to hear such cases exclusively”.

Participants also resolved that there should be bank-specific guidelines tailored toward addressing challenges peculiar to bank categories such as Unit, State, National Banks in the case of MFBs. They emphasized the need to incorporate trainings on basic accounting principles/financial analysis for lawyers and investigators in subsequent capacity building workshops, insisting that from the onset of investigation, a prosecutor/legal officer should be involved in the investigation process.

Agencies were encouraged to ensure the vacation of any court order that tends to stall investigation, ensure the composition of at least four or five members in the investigation team to forestall the case where one or two are unavailable to testify in Court thereby forestalling trial, adding that the Ministry of Justice should collaborate with the Judiciary to ensure adequate funding for witnesses.

The workshop resolved that charges against an accused should not be unwieldy as it is enough to have few counts that can be proved and emphasized on the need for the immediate passage of the Bill amending the Foreign Exchange Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions Act (FEMMPA). It call on NDIC to endeavour to utilise the provisions of the NDIC Act 2006 particularly Section 47 that empowers NDIC in-house lawyers to prosecute financial malpractices.

Finally the workshop urged CBN to setup a task force to sanitise the unauthorized Forex market and called for the Failed Banks Act to be amended to penalise poor corporate governance and weak internal control in banking institutions as well as to ensure that sanctions are commensurate with the offence committed.

In an industry faced with the challenges of crimes and sharp practices, efforts of the Alh. Umaru Ibrahim led NDIC to ensure sanity in the country’s financial system through an effective collaboration with other regulators and security agencies, to ensure the speedy investigation and prosecution of frauds in financial institutions is most commendable.

Observers and financial operators are already optimistic that closer and more cordial working relationship and partnerships amongst the key players in the fight against financial crime as being spearheaded by NDIC would yield definite and positive results.

For avoidance of doubt, the NDIC is an independent agency of the Federal Government of Nigeria. The purpose of the deposit insurance system is to protect depositors and guarantee the settlement of insured funds when a deposit-taking financial institution can no longer repay their deposits, thereby helping to maintain financial system stability.

There is no gain-saying that the NDIC under the watch of Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim has religiously stuck to the Corporation’s mission of contributing to the stability of the financial system through effective supervision of insured institutions, provision of financial/technical assistance to eligible insured institutions, prompt payment of guaranteed sums and orderly resolution of failed insured financial institutions.

Kojo Abdulsalam-Alada, Obiora Egwuatu Esq. & Emeka Ngige, SAN

Little wonder the Corporation was recently awarded “The Best Performing Ministerial SERVICOM Unit (MSU) 2017” by the SERVICOM Office of the Presidency. The award is in consonance with the core values of the corporation in the pursuit of excellence in operational performance and service delivery to all stakeholders.

To clinch this award, the Corporation scored 73 per cent representing the highest rating to emerge from amongst other 20 ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in “Team A” SERVICOM category. The commemorative plaque of the award was presented to the Corporation at a forum of National Nodal Officers held on Thursday, 14th December, 2017 at the SERVICOM Office, Abuja.

A group photograph of participants

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