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The Ilorin Zonal Commander of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Michael Nzekwe, has warned hotel owners from allowing
Yahoo Boys into their facilities for internet fraud and money laundering.
The commission warned against risking being prosecuted and jailed.
Nzekwe gave the warning on Thursday while addressing a stakeholders’ meeting of Designated Non-Financial Institutions (DNFIs) at the commission’s office along Catchment Road, GRA, Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
He said: ”The commission has observed a worrying pattern of cold complicity by hospitality entrepreneurs who appear to be hands-in-gloves with suspected fraudsters by housing them over long spells and making internet facilities available to them.”
Warning hoteliers against allowing internet fraudsters into their facilities, the Zonal Commander said hoteliers would be contravening Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act if they continue to allow Yahoo Boys to check into their hotels.
“Section 3 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, 2006 provides for a prison term of between five and 15 years without option of fine for any person who permits his premises to be used for any offence under the Act,” Nzekwe stated.
According to him, the meeting was called to sensitize stakeholders on the rising activities of fraudsters and the need to support the commission in the fight against corruption.
He said ignorance was not an excuse under the law, adding: “While the argument is being made in certain quarters that hoteliers as business people have no means of determining who a fraudster is before allowing them to lodge in their facilities, that position runs counter to the law.”
He urged the hoteliers to always ask their customers for means of identification and to fill their occupation as part of the check-in procedure.
The Zonal Commander further implored them to support the EFCC with credible and actionable information, adding that such information, when received, would be treated with absolute confidentiality.
Also speaking at the meeting, the President of Hotel Owners Association, Kwara State, Mr Dauda Akande, and Chief Isaac Omogbenle Adeyemi, the immediate past chairman of the Association, revealed some of the challenges faced by hotel owners in dealing with customers.
The challenges, according to them, include concealment of identity by guests, difficulty in determining a fraudster before allowing them to lodge in their facilities, and safety of whistle blowers, among others.
They, however, commended EFCC for its professionalism and doggedness in the anti-graft war, pledging their support for the commission in its bid to stem the scourge of corruption in Nigeria.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Zonal Commander urged compliance officers of banks to be diligent in the discharge of their duties and to ensure that they play active role in tackling money laundering and other fraudulent practices in the banking sector.
Nzekwe frowned at the actions of some bank officials, who he said aid and abet money laundering activities and other economic and financial crimes, describing such acts as “a sign of systemic abuse and failure on the part of such banks”.
“There is no major fraud especially money laundering that is ever committed without the connivance of the bank officials, and such must be discouraged,” he added.
On the issue of ‘Know Your Customer’ (KYC) and ‘Know Your Customer’s Business’ (KYCB), Nzekwe tasked the bankers to take the requirement seriously, saying it would help to keep fraudulent customers on the radar.