The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) and the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have pledged to collaborate in the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering.
This follows, a courtesy visit by NDLEA officials to the National Secretariat of ABCON, during which areas of mutual interest in the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering were discussed.
ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the association will work with NDLEA to organise sensitisation workshops for BDCs on the connection between drug trafficking and money laundering.
“Part of our role is ensuring compliance and one of our challenges is the vulnerability of BDCs and that is why we keep training our members on issues like customer identification as required under the “Know Your Customer” principle.
“We consider it important that we know our customers. One of the reasons why BDCs are vulnerable is because the proceeds of drugs are huge, as drug business is in billions of dollars and we deal in dollars, hence we are very vulnerable.
“The perpetrators, who have this proceed can run into our offices and that is why our members really need to provide information that will help the agency to trace the perpetrators. So, we would partner with the NDLEA to train our members on those things they need to watch out for to identify suspicious transactions.
“Though we have training programmes with the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) on these issues, we would also partner NDLEA to organise trainings and would request for resource persons from the agencies to participate in our periodic trainings,” he said.
Gwadabe noted that empowering BDCs against activities of drug traffickers and money launderers is imperative given the critical role of the industry in the economy.
He noted that in addition to providing retail foreign exchange services to travellers, BDCs help in achieving foreign exchange stability, while the industry provide jobs for about 16,000 Nigerians.
Leader of the NDLEA delegation, a Director Director, Nicholas Ajadurumye, said that though BDCs are under the regulation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), their activities have a bearing on the job of the NDLEA, adding that it is the rationale for the visit.
He said that the agency will work with ABCON to educate BDCs on certain obligations which have bearing on the war against drug trafficking and money laundering.
According to him, one of these obligations is record keeping. He said drug traffickers in their efforts to launder the proceeds of their crimes operates in cash, and they usually avoid businesses that keep meticulous records and documents of transactions, while preferring businesses that deals in cash and does not keep record of transactions.
He added that NDLEA and ABCON needed to work together to sensitise BDCs on the importance of record keeping as a way of protecting their businesses from transactions based on proceeds of crimes.