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Cablegate: Nigeria: Fatf Update -- New Hope

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

UNCLAS ABUJA 003311

SIPDIS


SENSITIVE


FOR INL AND AF
.
TREASURY FOR OFFICE OF ENFORCEMENT -- SHAUN LONERGAN


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

REF: A. ABUJA 3185
B. 3138
C. AND PREVIOUS


1.(SBU) RNLEO December 12 contacted Senator Abdullahi
Abubakar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs and
Financial Crimes, for an update on the legislation being
considered by the National Assembly in response to FATF
concerns. Abubakar reported that he had chaired a
"harmonization" committee meeting consisting of two other key
Senators and three members of the House of Representatives on
the night of December 10. The harmonization committee met
immediately following a House meeting on the draft anti-money
laundering legislation. According to Abubakar, the
harmonization committee members had been sensitized to the
concerns of the FATF with regards to the changes made by the
Senate to the draft Amendment to the Money Laundering Act of
1995. The earlier Senate changes had raised the reporting
thresholds for customer identification and cash transactions
to levels deemed unacceptable by the FATF.


2.(SBU) Abubakar claims that the harmonization committee
approved the original language and reporting thresholds (USD
5,000 or equivalent for customer identification and naira one
million/five million for reporting of individual/corporate
cash transactions) proposed by President Obasanjo in the
draft bills submitted in October. According to Abubakar,
the full Senate is being recalled from recess for an
emergency session on Saturday, December 14 to vote on the
revised Senate legislation. He expects the Senate to approve
the revised legislation and pass it to the President for
signature later in the day.


3.(SBU) Announcements in local papers December 13 confirm
Abubakar's statement of an extraordinary Senate session on
December 14. One such announcement in daily newspaper "This
Day" reads: "The Senate will reconvene tomorrow for a
special session to discuss various issues of national
importance. According to a statement signed by the Clerk of
the Senate yesterday, Senators are expected to assemble for
the special session at 10 a.m. The Senate which began its end
of year recess is expected to reconvene end of January."


4.(SBU) Comment: We will monitor the progress of the Senate
special session and seek to obtain copies of the final
legislation as soon as it is produced. These will be faxed
immediately to INL, AF and Treasury for analysis. The
Executive and Legislative branches are working together
closely (a rarity) to meet Nigeria's international
obligations. Wednesday's and tomorrow's emergency,
recess-breaking sessions of the House and Senate are a
remarkable sign of the seriousness with which the Government
is taking the threat of FATF sanctions.


5.(SBU) With a yard from the goal line, we would hope that
U.S. Treasury would refrain from making a public announcement
on potential Patriot Act Section 311 special measures
(accompanying the designation of Nigeria as a jurisdiction of
"primary money laundering concern") until it has had time to
analyze the legislation that may be enacted over the weekend
or early next week.
JETER

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