How An Ex-governor Offered Me N405m To Help Him Launder Money – Falana
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has revealed that he rejected a N405 million brief from a former governor in order to help the ex-state chief executive launder funds abroad.
He asked lawyers not to succumb to the lure of filthy lucre to assist politically exposed persons (PEPs) to commit financial crimes.
Falana’s testimony at an anti-corruption workshop in Abuja was released to the press yesterday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in its monthly magazine called ALERT.
Falana said: “The governor asked me to assist him in transferring money abroad, and that I should claim it to be proceeds from sale of his property in Nigeria.
“And the price was extremely attractive. He was going to pay me a million pounds then, when money was money.
“The governor said he had chosen me for the shady deal, because ‘nobody will suspect you’.
“I told him, ‘Your Excellency, so it is my reputation that you want to buy with your one million pounds?’
.”Some of my colleagues thought I was stupid, but those who accepted the offer later found themselves in trouble, as they were arrested and humiliated. They were only lucky not to have been charged to court.”
He advised lawyers against being used by politically exposed persons.
He said: “Lawyers have a paramount role to play in the fight against economic and financial crimes, as they are the ones usually employed by well-heeled members of the society to help perfect documents for illicit transactions, and to cover up their tracks.”
Falana faulted the ruling of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court, Abuja which held that Section 5 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 could not be applied to lawyers.
The judge in the ruling restrained the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML) from enforcing the section as it relates to legal practitioners.
The Act categorised legal firms as Designated Non-Financial Institutions, D N F I s , m a n d a t e d t o ” r e c o r d all transactions under this section in chronological order, in a registered number” and forward to the Federal Ministry of Commerce for onward delivery to the NFIU.
He added: “It is my submission that the judgement, with profound respect, cannot exculpate any lawyer who commits any offence under the law. This judgement cannot stand the test of time.”
On the recent bill at the National Assembly seeking to amend the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2012, he said it would “unwittingly weaken anti-graft agencies like the EFCC, hampering the effective discharge of their duties in combating financial crimes.
He urged the National Assembly, to call for a public hearing to ensure that “the amendment of the Money Laundering Act, would not be done hastily.”