Nigeria’s leader urges passage of money crimes bills

* Jonathan fears global body will blacklist Nigeria

* Failure to pass bills could impact foreign investment

By Camillus Eboh

ABUJA, April 20 (BestGrowthStock) – Nigeria’s acting president urged
parliament to pass two financial crimes bills within the next
two months, warning that failure to do so could impact foreign
investment in sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest economy.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan said he feared the
international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), comprising
governments and regional organisations, would add Nigeria to its
blacklist if it did not pass anti-money laundering and
anti-terrorism legislation by June 30.

The Paris-based body has blacklisted Iran, Angola, North
Korea, Ecuador and Ethiopia in February for posing risks to the
global financial system. [ID:nLDE61H2IG]

In a letter to the House of Representatives, Jonathan said
Nigeria faced “grave economic and political consequences” if the
FATF decided to implement sanctions on the OPEC member.

“Some countries will not honour international financial
instruments emanating from Nigeria, including letters of
credit,” said the letter, which was read to the lower house of
parliament on Tuesday.

“International investors will be scared to invest in Nigeria
and those willing to do so will request for the most stringent
conditions,” it added.

The two bills aim to close gaps in Nigeria’s fight against
money-laundering and terrorism by providing anti-corruption
police with greater authority to prosecute criminals.

Anti-terrorism legislation has assumed greater urgency since
a Nigerian man was arrested after trying to bring down an
airliner over Detroit last December with explosives concealed in
his underwear.

Ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who suffered a heart
ailment and has not been seen in public since November, had
committed Nigeria to implementing the legislation by the end of
2009. But neither houses of parliament have approved the bill.

Jonathan, who assumed executive powers in Yar’Adua’s
absence, said Nigeria’s international image would be “highly
dented” if the legislation does not pass in time.

But the two bills will need to fight for attention among a
huge backlog of reform legislation in parliament, ranging from
the oil sector to banking and the electoral system.

(Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Nick Tattersall and Giles
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Nigeria’s leader urges passage of money crimes bills