The Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit has flagged suspicious transactions valued at over N150tn between January and March 2022, according to its Suspicious Transaction Report/Suspicious Activity Report released on Sunday.
The development came as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and NFIU officials said they had intensified their surveillance on campaign spending by political parties and their candidates ahead of the 2023 polls.
Multiple EFCC and NFIU sources said their personnel were carrying out a series of joint operations to close in on several suspicious spending by parties, candidates and top chieftains.
NFIU, formerly a unit under the EFCC, is the central national agency responsible for the coordination of the country’s anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and counter-proliferation financing frameworks.
Also, the EFCC has deployed its operatives to track candidates’ campaign spending and monitor their bank accounts as part of actions to combat money laundering ahead of the general elections.
The development, it was gathered, was also meant to frustrate the movement of huge cash under the guise of election spending by the candidates and their political parties.
According to the latest NFIU report, the N150tn suspicious transactions were reported by banks, insurance firms, microfinance banks, assets management companies, brokers and other financial institutions.
The report shows that suspicious transactions have risen by 23 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the corresponding period of last year.
Meanwhile, out of the 2,845,927 suspicious transactions recorded by financial institutions in the first quarter of the year, banks alone accounted for 2,810,213, according to the NFIU activity statistics.
By law, financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions are required to file a Suspicious Transaction Report/Suspicious Activity Report with the NFIU detailing known or suspected violations of law or suspicious activities in line with the provisions of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
According to the NFIU report, during the review period, banks reported 2,810,213 STRs; merchant banks 14,810; assets management companies 8,237; micro-finance banks, 3,258; other financial institutions, 2,729; insurance companies 2,474; primary mortgage institutions, 1,911 and stock brokers 1,333.
Others are insurance brokers 467; trustees, 264; finance companies, 176; development financial institutions, 35; financial institutions 10 and issuing houses, 10.
The NFIU also disclosed that suspicious transactions increased by 22.91 per cent in Q1 2022 compared to Q1 2021.
The financial institutions reported N108.5tn suspicious transactions in the first quarter of 2021.