Money laundering

Criminal enforcement

Which government entities enforce your jurisdiction’s money laundering laws?

The government entities that enforce the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act (together, the Money Laundering Act) are the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force and the Nigerian Customs Service.

Defendants

Can both natural and legal persons be prosecuted for money laundering?

Yes, both natural and legal persons can be prosecuted for money laundering.

The offence of money laundering

What constitutes money laundering?

Money laundering is considered to be the conversion or transfer of resources or properties derived from criminal activity and collaboration by concealing or disguising the acquisition, use, retention or possession of such resources or properties.

Under the Money Laundering Act, acts and omissions constitute criminal liability. A strict liability standard applies to certain offences committed under the Act.

A negligence standard can be applied to offences where the accused person has failed to carry out an imposed duty.

Financial institutions can be prosecuted or pursued for the money laundering activities of their customers under the Money Laundering Act.

Qualifying assets and transactions

Is there any limitation on the types of assets or transactions that can form the basis of a money laundering offence?

There is no limitation on the types of assets or transactions that can form the basis of a money laundering offence.

Predicate offences

Generally, what constitute predicate offences?

Any criminal activity may constitute a predicate offence because the Money Laundering Act refers to illegal or criminal activity. Since any criminal activity can serve as a predicate offence, it follows that where the violation of tax and currency exchange laws in Nigeria amounts to a criminal act, such violation would serve as a predicate offence (see sections 2 and 15 of the Act).

Defences

Are there any codified or common law defences to charges of money laundering?

There are no codified or common law defences to charges of money laundering.

Resolutions and sanctions

What is the range of outcomes in criminal money laundering cases?

The sanctions for money laundering vary according to the offence. They include a term of imprisonment of between two and three years or a fine of at least 1 million naira for individuals, and fines from 3 million to 25 million naira, the prosecution of the principal officers of the corporate body and its winding up or the winding up and forfeiture of assets and properties for legal persons.

Enforcement matters can be resolved through plea agreements, settlement agreements, prosecutorial discretion or similar means. The use of such methods remains in its infancy in Nigeria. Nigeria is a federation, with the power to legislate on criminal procedural matters vested in state legislatures, and at the time of writing, only one state, Lagos, had passed any legislation dealing with plea bargains. The Lagos state legislation was passed in 2011 and does not provide any detailed framework for plea bargaining.

Forfeiture

Describe any related asset freezing, forfeiture, disgorgement and victim compensation laws.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, the Criminal Procedure Act and the Money Laundering Act all have provisions dealing with the forfeiture of assets upon conviction for offences committed.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act permits the Commission to apply to a court for an order freezing an account where it believes the money to be the proceeds of committing an offence under the Act.

Limitation periods on money laundering prosecutions

What are the limitation periods governing money laundering prosecutions?

There are no limitation periods for instituting criminal prosecutions in Nigeria.

Extraterritorial reach of money laundering law

Do your jurisdiction’s money laundering laws have extraterritorial reach?

Nigeria’s money laundering laws have extraterritorial reach. The offence of money laundering has been extended to apply to natural or legal persons outside Nigeria (see section 15(2) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act).

Law stated date

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