Nigerian bank cards including MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards may be barred from international transactions following the threat by Egmont Group to expel the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) by March.
The group said the expulsion is part of the agenda of its working group and heads of FIU meeting between March 2 and 7, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The Egmont group is a global network of 152 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).
If the expulsion occurs, Nigeria will be blacklisted in international finance and its financial institutions may lose their access to some big-ticket international transactions.
Nigeria will also no longer be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other 153 member countries, including the US and the UK.
Also to be affected is the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad.
Nigeria is already serving a suspension from the Egmont Group. The body suspended Nigeria in July 2017 citing interference of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the workings of the NFIU. The group had asked Nigeria to amend the law establishing the NFIU to make it autonomous it obtains in the international community.
The international body accused the NFIU of failing to protect “confidential information, specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges”.
A statement by Egmont last years said: “The Heads of FIU made a decision, by consensus, to suspend the membership status of the NFIU, Nigeria, following repeated failures on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information, specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges, as well as concerns on the legal basis and clarity of the NFIU’s independence from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The measure will remain in force until immediate corrective actions are implemented”.
Following the suspension, the senate passed the bill granting the NFIU autonomy.
In December, Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the EFCC, said as from January 1, 2018, NFIU would begin to operate as an independent organisation.
But it is not clear if the autonomy has actually been implemented.