The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Tuesday said about $129 billion (N20.6 trillion) was fraudulently transferred out of Nigeria in the last 10 years through various sources.
The commission, quoting Global Financial Integrity, based in Washington D.C., cited some of the sources to include tax avoidance, corruption, tax evasions, illegal mining activities, drugs and human trafficking.
In 2012 however, the commission collaborated with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to address illicit financial flows out of the country and recovered about $13 million suspected to be proceeds of criminal activities.
EFCC Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, made these disclosures in Abuja at the opening of a regional workshop on "Improving Cash Transactions Reporting Regime in the Designated Non-financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) and cross border cash and bearer negotiable instruments movements for North and West African countries.
The seminar was organised by the Swiss Confederation and the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), in conjunction with the federal Government of Nigeria.
Lamorde also cited a report by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), located within EFCC, as having estimated that $25.4 billion, comprising cash and financial instruments, were moved out of Nigeria through the borders between 2009 and 2013.
"While these figures may not necessarily be indicative of the proceeds of crime, they do however show how the AML/CFT vulnerabilities associated with cash movements," he said.
He narrated a recent incident which depicted some of the challenges faced by the commission.
He said: “From one of our neighbouring countries, some people came into the country with a lot of cash in their vehicle. They were detected at the border and arrested.
"Strangely, the governor of the state next to Nigeria, wrote to his counterpart on the Nigerian side, saying that the people should be released, they are traders, they are genuine traders and that the money is genuine, they know the origin.
"That was ignored and we were trying to comply with our anti-money laundering regime here. The matter is in court. That did not deter the emir from the other side also to write. In fact, the ambassador of that country to Nigeria, has visited me twice. I directed him to go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to write a letter to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to ask for the intervention of the ministry.”
Lamorde explained that it was difficult regulating and supervising the DNFPBs due to their size, unstructured sector, open borders, cultural issues, country capacity issues, weak and law enforcement structures.