As if things in the country are not bad enough, Nigerians doing international transactions may find life more difficult really soon. According to news reports, Nigeria may soon be expelled from the Egmont group, a global network of Financial Intelligence Units.
Egmont Group is an international organisation that helps Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) in member-nations to share information confidentially. Such information is used to fight money-laundering, financing for terrorist groups, and other suspicious transactions. The group is made up of 150 members, including Nigeria.
However, in July 2016, the group suspended the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) at its 24th plenary of the Heads of the FIUs in Macao.
Nigeria was suspended for failing to properly make the NFIU an independent body outside of the EFCC. In addition, the group cited that the EFCC was leaking confidential information to the media, and blackmailing individuals with confidential information.
Recent reports are claiming that Egmont Group is already trying to expel Nigeria from the group. The expulsion is a key agenda of the group at its working group and heads of FIU meeting between March 2 and March 7 in Argentina.
What are the implications if Egmont Group suspends Nigeria?
If the reports are true, the expulsion could leave Nigerians vulnerable to a lot of risks and issues.
Firstly, Nigerian issued credit and debit cards could be flagged as suspicious during international transactions. And worse, Nigerians would be subject to a “liability switch”.
What’s a liability switch? This means that if there’s an issue during a transaction your money would be deducted first. But the transaction would only be reversed after the issue has been adjudicated by the banks and the card company.
In other words, this means that Nigerians would absorb a lot of the risks in international transactions. And worse still is that most Nigerians may not know about this risk until complications occur.
Secondly, funds sent from Nigeria would be seen as fraudulent and suspected of money laundering. For example, if a transaction is flagged as fraudulent presently, the information would be shared with the NFIU, and it could investigate it and clear the transaction. But if Nigeria gets suspended, the NFIU would not be privy to such information, and a lot of transactions from Nigeria would be subjected to several frustrating reviews.
And thirdly, this expulsion could affect the country’s efforts to repatriate stolen funds. The country’s financial intelligence unit would find it difficult investigating and tracking stolen loots. Neither would it be able to get access to information about where the funds are.
So if this expulsion goes ahead, Nigerians and Nigeria may face a lot of new problems.
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