FG Extends Money Laundering Law To Casinos, Others, Bans Shell Accounts

The Federal Government has introduced stricter regulations in the operation of casinos in Nigeria, as part of its fresh move against money laundering.

This is just as a new law recently passed by the National Assembly prohibits ownership and operation of shell accounts in the country.

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Thursday assented to the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022; the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Bill, 2022; and the Proceeds of Crime (Recovery and Management) Bill, 2022.

The Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent on Monday, established a Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which is to monitor financial transactions within and outside Nigeria.

Section 5 of the Act sets conditions for casino operators and gamers.

The section read in part, “(1) A casino shall verify the identity of any of its customers carrying out financial transactions by requiring its customer to present a valid original document bearing his name and address; record all transactions under this section in chronological order including the nature and amount involved in each transaction; and each customer’s surname, forenames, and address, in a register forwarded to the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering for that purpose.

“(2) A register kept under Subsection (1)(b) of this section shall be forwarded to the Unit and preserved for at least five years after the last transaction recorded in the register. (3) In this section, the casino includes Internet casinos and ship-based casinos.”

Section 12 also prohibits numbered or anonymous accounts in fictitious names and shell banks.

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It read in part, “(1) The opening or maintaining of numbered or anonymous accounts by any person, financial institution, or body corporate is prohibited. (2) A person shall not establish or operate a shell bank in Nigeria. (3) A financial institution shall (a) not enter into or continue correspondent banking relationships with shell banks; and (b) satisfy itself that a respondent financial institution in a foreign country does not permit its accounts to be used by shell banks.”

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