(as prepared for delivery)
Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Lamorde;
Executive Chairman of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Ahmadu Giade,
Comptroller General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Abdullah Dikko
Comptroller General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, David S. Parradang
Other Distinguished guests;
Colleagues from the U.S. Mission to Nigeria;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
All protocols duly observed.
You are welcome.
Good morning. I am Maria Brewer, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the United States Embassy, Abuja. I’m pleased to welcome all of you to the opening ceremony of the Cross Border Financial Investigations Training, or CBFIT, Seminar. This training is jointly sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement, and the U.S. Department of Justice.
We work closely with the Nigerian government, particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), to strengthen Nigeria’s capabilities in investigating and successfully prosecuting financial crimes. This course 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.
This training course will provide you with best practices for conducting financial investigations. Developing these skills will enable you to track money and, most importantly, find the criminals engaged in illegal activities. It’s designed to improve your ability to combat economic and financial crimes within your country. As you know this has been a top priority in our partnership with Nigeria for the past several years.
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 for government officials who abuse the public trust and steal from their country.
The United States government recognizes that financial crime is a global phenomenon that transcends political borders. Developing partnerships with other nations and international bodies help us both detect criminal activities and trace the proceeds of crime. Efforts to combat and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing focus on identifying and addressing vulnerabilities and loopholes. These loopholes are frequently exploited by transnational criminal organizations and terrorists. Our training program builds partnerships and assists international law enforcement, in countering trafficking and raising awareness to money laundering, bulk cash smuggling, and terrorist financing. In addition to the fight against the laundering of illicit proceeds, the United States and Nigeria are committed to the prevention of financial crimes.
We want 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 and other illicit financial activity is important for you, the leaders of your country, and your fellow citizens—including your children and grandchildren.
The instructors who will work with you over the next few days have come to share their hard-won professional 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.
In recognition of the strong partnership with EFCC, I would like to present 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, saving valuable time. One of the greatest benefits is that the counter can detect counterfeit bills, which should prove to be extremely beneficial to the EFCC.
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.
But more importantly, the people of Nigeria thank you for helping to make this country a safer place.
With that, let me hand things over to Steven Robinson from HSI, who will introduce you to the training program that he and his colleagues have devised for you over the coming days. The work you’ve committed your careers to is tough, but vital to Nigeria’s success. 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.