The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit has flagged suspicious transactions valued at over N150tn between January and March 2022, according to its Suspicious Transaction Report/Suspicious Activity Report released on Sunday.
The development came as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and NFIU officials said they had intensified their surveillance on campaign spending by political parties and their candidates ahead of the 2023 polls.
Multiple EFCC and NFIU sources said their personnel were carrying out a series of joint operations to close in on several suspicious spending by parties, candidates and top chieftains.
NFIU, formerly a unit under the EFCC, is the central national agency responsible for the coordination of the country’s anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and counter-proliferation financing frameworks.
Also, the EFCC has deployed its operatives to track candidates’ campaign spending and monitor their bank accounts as part of actions to combat money laundering ahead of the general elections.
The development, it was gathered, was also meant to frustrate the movement of huge cash under the guise of election spending by the candidates and their political parties.
According to the latest NFIU report, the N150tn suspicious transactions were reported by banks, insurance firms, microfinance banks, assets management companies, brokers and other financial institutions
The report shows that suspicious transactions have risen by 23 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the corresponding period of last year.
Meanwhile, out of the 2,845,927 suspicious transactions recorded by financial institutions in the first quarter of the year, banks alone accounted for 2,810,213, according to the NFIU activity statistics.
By law, financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions are required to file a Suspicious Transaction Report/Suspicious Activity Report with the NFIU detailing known or suspected violations of law or suspicious activities in line with the provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
According to the NFIU report, during the review period, banks reported 2,810,213 STRs; merchant banks 14,810; assets management companies 8,237; micro-finance banks, 3,258; other financial institutions, 2,729; insurance companies 2,474; primary mortgage institutions, 1,911 and stock brokers 1,333.
Others are insurance brokers 467; trustees, 264; finance companies, 176; development financial institutions, 35; financial institutions 10 and issuing houses, 10.
The NFIU also disclosed that suspicious transactions increased by 22.91 per cent in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021.
The financial institutions reported N108.5tn suspicious transactions in the first quarter of 2021
The intelligence agency stated, ‘’Based on the table (of transactions), all agency business had an increase in Suspicious Transactions Reported to the NFIU in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021 with the exception of Development Financial Institutions.
‘’Overall, the total number of STRs received by the NFIU across agency business has increased by 22.91 per cent in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021.’’
The NFIU explained that it recorded a total of N1.9tn suspicious transactions between July and December 2021.
Between October and December, the financial intelligence agency recorded suspicious transactions valued at N1.706tn with banks accounting for N1.704tn.
Similarly, out of the 4,117 STRs logged by the agency between July and September 2021 valued at N208.6bn, banks accounted for 3,967 transactions estimated at N206.5bn.
In the third quarter of 2020, the unit recorded 4,392 STRs valued at N292.2bn with banks alone accounting for 4,328 suspicious transactions.
Comparing the STRs in the third quarter of 2020 and 2021, the NFIU said, “Primary Mortgage Institutions, insurance companies, microfinance banks, merchant banks, trustee and finance companies had an increase in suspicious transactions received in Q3 2021 compared to Q3 2020.
Culled from The PUNCH