The United States has branded Nigeria a home of fraud as it also expressed concern over the capacity of Nigeria’s States Security Service, SSS, to investigate money laundering.

Premium Times reports that the U.S. government said this in an assessment which was contained in March 2017 edition of the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) authored by the US Department of State’s Bureau for International Narcotic and Law Enforcement Affairs.

“There are concerns about the Department of State Services’ capacity to investigate money laundering and that it does not share case information with other agencies that also conduct financial investigations,” the report states.

The report noted that the EFCC’s reliance on formal mutual legal assistance with the U.S. to collect admissible evidence in money laundering cases is a major challenge in its effort to curb financial crimes.

However it praised the EFCC for its “aggressive” probe of high-profile corruption but also insisted that the conviction rate was regrettable.

“However, the EFCC’s conviction rates continue to be low due in part to gaps in the judicial system that cause cases to languish in the system for long periods of time without resolution,” the report said.

The report which praised Nigerian banks for their willingness to submit currency transactions reports however describe the country as “a major drug transshipment point and a significant center for financial crime.”

It also slams Nigerian financial institutions for engaging in “currency transactions related to international narcotics trafficking that include significant amounts of US currency.”

According to Premium Times, the report argued that criminal organisations, corrupt officials, businessmen, terrorist group and internet fraudsters take advantage of Nigeria’s weak law, poor enforcement, geographical location, porous borders and socioeconomic conditions to launder proceeds of crime.

The report read in part: “Criminal proceeds laundered in Nigeria derive partly from foreign drug trafficking and criminal activity including illegal oil bunkering, bribery and embezzlement, contraband smuggling, theft, and financial crimes. Public corruption is also a significant source of laundered criminal proceeds.

“International advance fee fraud, also known as “419 fraud” in reference to the fraud section in Nigeria’s criminal code, remains a lucrative financial crime,” it states.

“In 2016 President Buhari implemented several transparency measures, such as requiring all government entities, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, to remit nearly all revenues to a Treasury Single Account (TSA). The recent implementation and enforcement of the TSA as well as the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System are intended to make Government government revenue collection and expenditures more streamlined and transparent.”

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