Money Laundering: UK Tightens Noose on Nigerians, others; Emboldens Whistleblowers
From September 2016, Nigerians and other persons wishing to launder money through the United Kingdom banking system may end up laundering their way into prisons as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released new rules for the UK banking and insurance sector to protect whistleblowers and encourage them to come forward. The FCA said the new rules will take full effect in September 2016.
The whistleblower rules apply to deposit-takers (banks, building societies, credit unions) with over £250 million ($382 million) in assets, and to regulated insurance companies.
For all other firms, the rules are “non-binding guidance,” the FCA said.
“These rules aim to encourage a culture where individuals feel able to raise concerns and challenge poor practice and behavior,” the FCA said.
In recent years, Nigerian political elite have found the UK banking system a convenient nest to launder stolen public funds. The likes of Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, former governor of Bayelsa State, James Ibori of Delta State and his acolytes including his wife and mistress had been busted by the UK police on crimes bordering on illicit money. Immediate past Minister of Petroleum, Deziani Alison-Madueke, is currently undergoing trial in the UK over similar charges of money laundering.
But the UK authorities wanting to tighten the noose and ensure fool-proof against financial crimes in the banking system have unveiled new measures that empowers and protects whistleblowers within the system who are now encouraged by the new rules to squeal about shady financial dealings under their noses.
The new rules require a firm to: Appoint a senior manager as their whistleblowers’ champion; put in place internal whistleblowing arrangements able to handle all types of disclosure from all types of person; put text in settlement agreements explaining that workers have a legal right to blow the whistle; tell UK-based employees about the FCA and PRA (Prudential Regulation Authority) whistleblowing services; present a report on whistleblowing to the board at least annually; inform the FCA if it loses an employment tribunal with a whistleblower; and require its appointed representatives and tied agents to tell their UK-based employees about the FCA whistleblowing service
The FCA said it received 1,340 whistleblower complaints for financial year 2014/15, a 28 percent increase over the prior year and a ten-fold increase over 2007/08, when it received just 138 whistleblower complaints.
Tracey McDermott, acting FCA chief executive, said: “For individuals to have the confidence to come forward, it is vital that firms have in place adequate policies on dealing with whistleblowers and that a senior manager takes responsibility for overseeing these policies.”
“These rules are designed to build on and formalize examples of good practice already found in parts of the financial services industry,” she said