Terrorism Financing: Gwadabe advocates constant training, sensitization of BDC operators to build capacity


Following alleged lack of compliance to Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has called for constant training, awareness and sensitization of Bureau De Change operators in the country so as to equip them with the requisite knowledge to enable them carry on their businesses effectively.

The President of ABCON, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe who made this call in a chat with members of the Financial and Business Online Publishers (FiBOP) at the association’s secretariat in Lagos on Tuesday observed that as a self regulatory organization, the association’s objective was to ensure compliance to Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing framework.

Gwadabe noted that although BDC operators were gateway to financial sector, they were the weakest link of the chain.

“This is as a result of low capacity as well as low level of knowledge among members and there is one way you can address that which is through constant training, awareness, sensitization and sanctions for erring members.

“So, by the time they (CBN) come up with a mechanism that will be a win-win, by reducing their (BDC) number, supervision will become easier because this number is very difficult for them (CBN) to supervise. How many can they supervise? How many staff do they have in the whole of their Financial Supervision Department? What is their staff strength that can go round 5,600 Bureau De Change in Nigeria? So, you see, supervision too will become very difficult which is the truth.

“You know I said it earlier in my discussion that they (CBN) accuse some of us of money laundering and terrorism financing. You know money laundering and terrorism financing is a very complex financial sector issue. Yes, I understand the challenge with the BDCs but where there should be an investigation is the banks because all these transactions are routed through the banks. The BDCs operator that you are accusing, his account is with the bank, the man that is buying through the BDCs, his account is in the bank. So, it’s a banking transaction. You will transfer the money to me, investigation will show that”, he said.

While regretting that most of the BDC operators operate without having an office, the ABCON boss revealed that “if the money hit their account, they will come and give you the dollar without doing the necessary documentations, in this case, KYC (Know Your Customer) and because of this, people who are selling dollars without documentations would necessarily patronize them.

“Which unlicensed Bureau De Change will ask for your ID Card and you will give it to him? You come to my office as a licensed BDC and I say Oga, I need your passport, I want to document it, you will say which language am I speaking? So, you go and meet those ones that are operating without documentations.

“So, the thing is, let us thread softly, let us collaborate, let us create awareness for them to understand because most of them don’t even know the implication of what they are doing. To them, it’s a normal business, it’s not dirty at all because the man will not tell you he is a terrorist or a bandit.

“But that is not enough to say that BDCs must not do their due diligence. Due diligence is very important and that’s why we said that we are willing to collaborate”, he declared.

On what the association was doing to educate members on the dangers of money laundering and terrorism financing, Alhaji Gwadabe disclosed that the association had carried out lots of trainings and awareness in collaboration with some government and anti-graft agencies for members in the past.

He continued, “Just last year, we went throughout the country, we had a training in Kano in collaboration with the Central Bank, NFIU, Federal Inland Revenue Service, EFCC and many other agencies. They provided the resource persons, we went round the country; Lagos, Asaba, South South, South East, North East, North Central and we trained about 5,600 members nationwide with all these agencies in attendance to educate and sensitize our members for them to gain knowledge on money laundering and terrorism financing.”

Going forward, the President stated with the advent of technology, it could go a long way in checking the incidences of money laundering and terrorism financing adding that automation is the way to go.

“Even Agriculture has gone digital. So, is it money business that will not go digital? Automation is the way to go” he added.

He informed that as part of efforts to launder the image of the BDC operators, the association came up with the idea of establishing an institute even as he further explained that the association was at the level of obtaining some approvals from some relevant agencies for the institute to take off.

“So, this is part of what the association is doing in terms of documenting them. Two, we want to partner with regulatory and security agencies in order to come up with some Apps so that it will ease registration so as to do away with this stringent registration process which lays more emphasis on money so that we can begin to capture their transactions, know them and bring them closer. So, these are some of the things we are proposing to the
regulators and the security agencies”, he added.

Photo: Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON).

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