EFCC Issues 2 Weeks Ultimatum To Bank Debtors … Nabs Church Financier Over $96,000 Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has given debtors of recently bailed out banks two weeks to pay up or face another round of action from the anti-graft agency. The latest ultimatum is coming following reports from the affected banks that most of the debtors had reneged on their promises to pay up within a stipulated period. According to the statement made available to The Tide through its spokesperson, Mr. Femi Babafemi. “It is worrisome that those that made part payments with a promise to paying up within a certain period as agreed with EFCC, have failed on their own terms. It is therefore necessary to remind them that the recent withdrawal of the EFCC operatives from the affected banks should not be misconstrued”, he said. Meanwhile, Chairman of the Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, has said that the anti-graft agency will henceforth, focus its attention on Other Financial Institutions, OFIs, such as mortgage firms and discount houses in its efforts to rid the country of money laundering and terrorism financing. Other Financial Institutions, which the EFCC Chairman said have become potentially weak links in the war against money laundering in Nigeria, include: Discount Houses, Primary Mortgage Institutions and Micro Finance Banks. Mrs. Waziri who was represented by Emmanuel Akomaye, Secretary to the Commission, made the remark at the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing training/seminar, organized by the EFCC through the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, for other financial institutions, last Monday. “Focusing on the OFIs or strengthening AML/CFT measures within the OFIs Sector will help us weed out unscrupulous operators who have brought disrepute to other sector; enhance business transparency and promote legitimate private business growth; provide a fair and enabling environment for all OFIs operators; increase investors confidence thereby attracting more investment and facilitate the prevention and detection of money laundering and all associated predicate offences,” Waziri said. According to her, empirical evidence shows that criminals are gradually moving towards Other Financial Institutions to commit crimes because of the relatively weak AML/CFT regulations. The OFIs, she said have become a potential weak link in the war against money laundering in Nigeria . “The stigma of being the weak link does not bode well for the OFIs sub-sector, the professions within the sub-sector and indeed the overall implementation of Nigeria’s AML/CFT regime”, she added. Mrs. Waziri urged the participants to cooperate and partner with the NFIU by fulfilling their obligations under the relevant laws in order to confront effectively the menace of money laundering, terrorist financing and other related crimes in Nigeria. Norman Wokoma, Director, NFIU, listed the objectives as including, creating awareness on Anti-Money Laundering/Counter Terrorist Financing among operators of Discount Houses, Primary Mortgage Institutions, PMIs and Micro Finance Banks it is also aimed at enhancing operators’ responsiveness to their obligations under the Anti-Money laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004 and guides the operators of Discount Houses, Primary Mortgage Institutions, Micro Finance Banks on filing cash transactions, foreign transactions and suspicious transactions reports. Meanwhile a former student of the Igbinedion University, Okada and Edo State, who is prominent financier of the Christ Embassy Church, Okoro Osagie Victor, alias Jerry Finger has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for allegedly defrauding foreigners to the tune of $96, 607 through the internet. The 23 -year old former Chemical Engineering student who dropped out of the university in 2004 due to what he called ‘family issues’, was picked up by operatives of the Commission in Benin city following a petition by a regional compliance officer with Money gram International, who suspected that the large number of foreign ladies, mostly Americans and Germans, who have been wiring money to the fraudster were victims of fraud. The suspicion was triggered by a communication with one of Victor’s victims who told money gram that she met the fraudster over the internet and that she has been sending him money because he claims that he wanted to set up a business. Investigations subsequently revealed that Victor is a serial marriage scammer. He has been fleecing his victims posing as Jerry Finger, a white British American expatriate working in Nigeria. Apart from sending photograph of a successful white male with the assumed Identity of a Jerry Finger to his victims and promising them marriage, he would also tell them that he was in Nigeria to execute a project and then demand for money from them, with a promise to refund them when he is paid for the project. Some fell for the gimmick and paid.