Law News
‘Strengthen anti-money laundering laws’

Participants at one day round table organised by Sterling Partnership, a leading commercial law firm, have called for the strengthening of anti-money laundering laws.

The event which held in Lagos  had two sessions on the role of the law in Nigeria’s pursuit of sustainable economic development.

The topics were:  Curbing Impunity: Anti-Money Laundering and Asset Tracing’ and Creating an Enabling Environment for Funding Entertainment: The Role of Law.

Introducing the first session, former Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) president Mrs Boma Ozobia said: “Despite the global, regional and local trends being experienced in the oil industry, Nigeria is presented with another opportunity to get things right through the development of other sectors of the economy.

“Asset tracing as a veritable tool for discovering laundered assets and stripping corrupt people of the benefits of their crimes and restoring same to the society was highlighted, using the Abacha loot model.

A major drawback to asset recovery, however, is the general perception among the international community that even when the proceeds of corrupt enrichment are recovered and restored to Nigeria, such funds/assets still find its way into corrupt pockets. Incompetent investigations and prosecutors was also held out as major stumbling block to the fight against corruption.

One strategy distilled for quick and effective investigation is appropriate use of the Declaration of Assets Form as in the Schedule to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act where false or incomplete disclosure of assets could attract up to five years imprisonment.

“Another issue identified at the event wasthe need to expedite proceedings in court and dispense with bottlenecks. It is anticipated that the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015,  will ensure the system of administration of criminal justice in Nigeria is more efficient. t

The Managing Partner of Sterling Partnership, Mr.  Israel Aye, stated that despite the huge potential of the creative and entertainment industry to create wealth and generate employment for the teeming youth population, the industry will not be able to attract sufficient financial capital needed for growth if it does not have a well-articulated legal and fiscal framework.

Notwithstanding the success the creative industry has experienced in recent years, particularly Nollywood and the music industry, the general consensus was that the creative industry has phenomenal capacity to attain even greater feats.

It was also acknowledged that although there is a ready market for the creative industry, the lack of a legal framework and infrastructure has hampered effective access to the market. In this regard, the creative industry is encouraged to form broad based partnerships with industries that can help it access funds required for growth.

Aye reiterated that absence of a clear legal and fiscal framework will inevitably stunt the growth of any system.

At the event were Chief Judge of Anambra State, Justice Justice Peter Umeadi; Justice Peter Obiora of the High Court of Anambra State); Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court; Prof Olawale Ajai of the Lagos Business School, Mr. Yahaya Maikori, Taiwo Ajai-Lycett , Mr Bola Mogaji, Mrs. Ifeoma Fafunwa and Deola Sagoe, among others.

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