By Bolaji Ogungbemi
The Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria says it is working with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to curb sharp practices such as money laundering and other fraudulent acts in the real estate industry.
The President of REDAN, Mr Ugochukwu Chime, said the association in collaboration with the EFCC and the Special Control Unit on Money Laundering had since 2010 been working to ensure that the industry was sanitised.
According to him, in recent years, there has been an increase in the collaboration.
Chime explained that in Abuja and many other cities, there were a lot of houses abandoned by the owners because of the source through which the money used for the investment was acquired.
He added, “So because of the high level of illicit funds flowing into the sector, it has became necessary that REDAN should work together with SCUML to put in place a mechanism to control in the inflow of funds.
“This is both for development and the purposes of those who are buying those houses so that we will be able to ensure that our sector does not become the preferred sector for such illegal activities.”
He stated that apart from money laundering, some people had recently been using the industry for small arms procurement and funding of bandits.
“What we have done is to have a provision in our membership form that requires every member to be registered with SCUML and be able abide with the policies and regulations and the procedures of SCUML in terms of control of money laundering and in terms of suspicious activities reporting,” he said.
According to him, REDAN is working collaboratively to find a mechanism to ensure that both SCUML and the association have an arrangement where any developer that wishes to register with SCUML will also be required to register with REDAN.
He said the association would carry out due diligence, adding that if the intending member was developing an estate, REDAN would be able to endorse it and know the source of funding for the project.
He said, “We will also ensure the developer complies with the extant laws, especially the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing Act 2011. We will also be able to ensure you understand the risk to which you are putting your organisation because if your company is found to be a source of money laundering, it has very serious legal consequences.
“And that is why we are working with SCUML and other agencies to make sure that we enhance the training of our members so that they know the risk of non-compliance and be motivated to comply.”
Chime stated that every member of the association would also be mandated to renew their membership every year, engage in professional development and obey regulatory agencies operating in the sector.