Gabriel Enenche —
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), yesterday, revealed that it had commenced investigation into completed but unoccupied housing estates in Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt, suspected to be conduits for money laundering.
ICPC also accused members of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN) of failure to pay counterpart funding for loans obtained from the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN) to deliver infrastructure for mass housing projects, where members, instead, sold the plots to the highest bidder.
Speaking at the 13th Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Conference of the Association held in Enugu, Chairman of the ICPC, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, expressed regrets that some members of REDAN were engaged by unscrupulous individuals and politically exposed persons (PEPs) to launder their ill-gotten wealth. Owasanoye said this had led to the labelling and perception of honest and patriotic members of the association as corrupt.
He disclosed that the commission was currently investigating cases of fully completed but unoccupied estates in Abuja, in order to identify developers serving as conduit for money laundering and illicit financial flows (IFFs).
The ICPC chairman stated that the commission intended to cover other major housing hubs in the country, especially Lagos and Port Harcourt.
A statement by ICPC said while urging REDAN to support the law enforcement agencies in their investigations, Owasanoye advised the association to intensify its compliance monitoring of members in the areas of unwholesome practices, such as low quality housing deliveries and shady financial practices.
The statement quoted the ICPC chairman as saying, “The commission conducted a system study and review of mass housing delivery in the FCT, where it was discovered that members of REDAN who had been allocated huge plots of land for mass housing development in Nigeria through the FMBN, with particular responsibility to provide infrastructure after which allocations are made to the National Housing Fund (NHF) contributors, failed in the payment of their counterpart funding and in the delivery of infrastructure to the project sites and, rather, resorted to offering and selling the estate plots to the highest bidder, contrary to the government policy.”
He counselled the leadership of REDAN to self-regulate its members as part of measures to prevent being used for money laundering and IFFs.
Owasanoye, who was represented by the commission’s Director of Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management, Mr. Adedayo Kayode, urged the leadership of REDAN to introduce the Know-Your-Customer (KYC) principles to its clients to avoid serving as conduit for money launderers and IFFs offenders.
He stated, “It is my position that self-regulation is a way out of this quagmire for the association. REDAN should consciously draw up programmers to build capacity of its members on modern trends in construction and also hold its members to the highest level of ethical standards.
“The association should introduce and enforce high ethical standards for its members, especially, to ensure their processes are not used for money laundering. In this regard, the association may introduce KYC principles.”
The ICPC boss stated that the theme of the AGM, “Enhancing the Real Estate Sector through Effective Regulation and Collaborations,” was in line with the commission’s mandate of partnership and collaboration with relevant institutions towards building a mass mobilisation vanguard in the curbing of corruption and IFFs within the system and the country, generally.