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Cablegate: Nigeria: Fatf Update

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 003185

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


FOR INL AND AF
.
TREASURY FOR DO -- SHAUN LONERGAN


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM EFIN SNAR NI
SUBJECT: NIGERIA: FATF UPDATE


1.(SBU) With the threat of FATF-directed "counter-measures"
looming three weeks away, Nigeria's House of Representatives
on November 21 passed all three pending pieces of money
laundering legislation. These are amendments to the 1995
Money Laundering Act and 1991 Banking and Other Financial
Institutions Act and the Financial Crimes Commission Act.
The Senate has yet to vote on any of the legislation, though
there are indications a vote could come within the next few
days.


2.(SBU) RNLEO, accompanied by LEGATT, Assisant USSS Attache
and Assistant DEA Attache, November 25 called on Alhaji
Abudllahi Abubakar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on
Narcotics and Financial Crimes -- one of three Senate
Committees reviewing the money laundering legislation.


3.(SBU) Abubakar expressed appreciation for the seriousness
of the impending sanctions, while complaining that the
Presidency had only proposed the two Amendments in late
September and was now pushing the National Assembly to act
quickly or face the blame for international condemnation on
money laundering. Noting that the House had passed all
three bills without revisions, Abubakar stated that he and
other other Chairmen in the Senate had first wanted to merge
all three pieces of legislation into one bill since they all
cover the same topic. In the interest of time, however, the
Senators agreed to vote on all three separately. Abubakar
revealed that the Senate has made two changes to the Banking
and Other Financial Institutions (BOFI) Amendment. The draft
BOFI amendment presented by the Presidency allows the CBN to
refuse a bank or financial institution a license without
stating a reason. The Senate feels this is not reasonable
and has changed the bill's language to require an explicit
reason. Also, the President's BOFI amendment allows the
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze accounts if deemed
suspicious. Abubakar said the Senate believes this is giving
the Executive too much power and has changed the bill's
language to require a court order before an account can be
frozen.


4.(SBU) The other two bills -- the Money Laundering Act
amendment and the Financial Crimes Commission Act --
apparently have not been modified by the Senate. Abubakar
assured the USG visitors that all three would be brought to a
vote by November 27, though he acknowledged that the House
and Senate versions of at least one bill will be discordant
and will require "harmonization" between the two houses (i.e.
convocation of a conference committee). Abubukar was upbeat
on the prospects of having the bills passed by the Senate and
reconciled with the House before the National Assembly
adjourns for holidays in early December.


5.(SBU) Post will continue to monitor this situation closely.


JETER

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