Opening Remarks by the U.S. Consulate Acting Consul General Dehab Ghebreab DHS/Homeland Security Investigations – Cross Border Financial Investigation

I am Dehab Ghebreab, the Acting Consul General at the United States Consulate here in Lagos.  I’m delighted to welcome all of you to the opening ceremony of the Cross Border Financial Investigations Training (CBFIT).  This training is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the US Department of Justice.

HSI, INL and DOJ work closely with the Nigerian government, particularly the EFCC, to strengthen Nigerian’s capabilities in investigating and successfully prosecuting financial crimes.  This CBFIT is the next step in our engagement with you, the front line law enforcement officers and Ministry of Justice officials, in fighting against financial crime in Nigeria.  The training is timely as there have been extensive reports in the news media about your work and the ongoing investigation on corruption.  Evidence based and thorough investigation that results in convictions consistent with Nigerian and international law will help you succeed and generate respect for you and your agencies.  The training that you’re about to receive will enhance your investigation skills.

This CBFIT will focus on providing you with the best practices for conducting financial investigations.  Developing these skills will enable you to track money and find the criminals engaged in illegal activities.  It’s designed to bolster your capability in combatting economic and financial crimes against your country.  The United States and Nigeria have made it a top priority to fight financial crimes and together we’ll succeed.

For Nigeria to tackle corruption effectively there must be clear and consistent consequences for those individuals who commit financial fraud.  These sanctions must extend to all bad actors with no exemptions or exceptions for government officials who abuse the public trust and steal from their country.  Your work is tough but you can do it successfully.

The United States government recognizes that financial crime is a global phenomenon transcending political borders.  Developing partnerships with other nations and international bodies ensures effective outcomes in the detection of criminal activities and tracing the proceeds.  Our collective efforts to combat and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing must focus and depend on identifying and addressing vulnerabilities and loopholes.  Loopholes are frequently exploited by transnational criminal organizations, terrorists, and other criminal groups.  Our training program is designed to build partnerships and assist international law enforcement in countering trafficking and raising awareness of money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, and terrorist financing.  Through international law enforcement partnerships, we can track down illegal actors and bring them to justice.  We must work together to succeed.

In addition to the fight against laundering of illicit proceeds, the United States and Nigeria are committed to the prevention of financial crimes.  I urge you to take what you learn from this important course and use it to become more effective public servants.  What you do on a daily basis to prevent money laundering, financial crimes, and other illicit financial activity is important to reduce poverty in Nigeria today and in the future.  Stolen money returned to public coffers through your efforts could be used to improve education, health care, build roads, and develop your country.  You must stop the crooks from stealing and trafficking public funds and with will power and capacity you can do it.

The instructors from HSI who will work with you over the next few days have come to share their hard-won professional knowledge.  Knowledge gained through years of experience.  I hope that you will take advantage of their eagerness to work with you, and that you will also take the time to get to know each other.  Friendships between instructors and participants can contribute enormously towards fostering the true spirit of international security cooperation.  Please give them a big round of applause.

I extend my thanks to all of you for taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend this training.  Your commitment to learning about the vulnerabilities of illicit finance, and the investigation and prosecution of transnational criminal organizations will ensure a prosperous future for Nigeria.

The work that you do is tough but vital to safeguarding the resources of your country from those who are bent to steal it for personal use.  As you continue to fight the good fight against financial crimes and corruption in Nigeria, please know that the U.S. government stands with our Nigerian friends as your full partner in this crucial endeavor.

In recognition of our strong partnership with EFCC, I would like to present to Executive Chairman Ibrahim Lamorde with this money counter to assist the EFCC in their work.  The counter was specifically designed for the EFCC to count and sort the various types of international currencies they encounter on a regular basis.  It will allow EFCC to sort and quickly count bills from around the world with utmost accuracy and expeditiously, saving valuable time.  One of the greatest benefits, however, is that the counter can detect counterfeit bills, which should prove to be extremely beneficial to the EFCC.

With that, let me hand over to Steven Robinson from HSI, who will introduce you to the training program.

Thank you.