The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC is appealing to Real Estate Agents to partner with them in the fight against corruption and to avoid being exploited for money laundering purposes.
Michael Nzekwe, the Commander of the Ilorin Zonal Command of the Commission, on Tuesday, September 19, 2023, made this statement during a meeting at the Commission’s office in Ilorin with executive members of the Kwara Chapter of the Estate Rent and Commission Agent Association of Nigeria (ERCAAN), headed by Chairman Adewole Onibokun.
Nzekwe said his Command was determined to fight financial crime through enforcement of all regulations with a view to curtailing sharp practices and money laundering especially in the real estate sector.
According to him, “real estate is an avenue through which corrupt Nigerians launder proceeds of crime. I was delighted when I got your letter that you would be coming on a courtesy visit because I know the visit will offer us the opportunity to discuss how we can deal with this issue.”
Nzekwe described the Association as one of the critical stakeholders in the fight against corruption and admonished members to live above board, while paying serious attention to the provisions of the new Money Laundering Act, 2022 (as amended) and the Advance Fee Fraud Act and other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
The Zonal Commander urged his guests to adequately acquaint themselves with the laws and regulations guiding the real estate sector particularly Section 3 of the AFF Act, 2006 which states that, “A person who, being the occupier or is concerned in the management of any premises, causes or knowingly permits the premises to be used for any purpose which constitutes an offence under this Act commits an offense and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not more than 15 years and not less than 5 years without the option of a fine.”
He said this provision of the law placed serious responsibilities on Real Estate Agents to make “KYC” (Know Your Customer) a precondition in dealing with customers to be free of liabilities in case of any eventuality.
He also called on members of the association to ensure compliance with the regulation requiring registration and certification of their businesses by the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering, SCUML, and urged them to report suspicious transactions to the appropriate agency as required by the law.
Earlier, Mr. Onibokun, the Chairman of the Association in Kwara State, lauded the substantial efforts of the Ilorin Zonal Command in the battle against corruption. He said that his members are ready to collaborate with the Commission in combatting money laundering and other financial crimes within the real estate sector.