The International Real Estate Federation, FIABCI-Nigeria, has expressed optimism that the recently passed Money Laundering Act will curb the rate at which funds are siphoned through the real estate sector.
The group stated this during its just-concluded networking meeting held in Lagos on Thursday.
In his speech, keynote speaker, Kayode Adeluola, SAN, said the real estate sector had become a veritable tool through which corrupt public officials laundered stolen funds.
He advised real estate practitioners to endeavour to familiarise themselves with their clients and also put measures in place to ensure that the funds used for the purchase of landed properties were not gained through illicit means.
Adeluola said real estate practitioners should create a system that allowed clients to sign indemnity clauses in order to shield their firms from possible situations that might arise from the prosecution of unscrupulous individuals seeking to launder illicit wealth via real estate.
He said, “One of the easiest ways to launder money nowadays is buying real estate. Many of them use pseudonyms. As real estate, you must always ensure that you know your customer, you must know the person you’re dealing with, try as much as possible to know their source of income.”
According to him, with the passing of the new Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and as other anti-graft agencies now had wider gambit to interrogate the activities in the real estate sector.
He cautioned practitioners to resist the temptation of conniving with shady real estate investors as the potential loss of reputation would far outweigh the pecuniary gain of skirting the law.