A Comparative Study of the Money Laundering Laws/Regulations in Nigeria, the United States and the United Kingdom: Cash Couriers
The PUNCH, VOL 38 NO. 20,733, 20,739 PAGE 25, 29
Posted: 7 Aug 2014 Last revised: 2 Sep 2017
Date Written: August 5, 2014
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) — an independent intergovernmental body that develops and promotes policies to protect the global financial system against money laundering, terrorist financing and financing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction — has advised countries to enact laws that require all persons who physically transport currency or bearer negotiable instruments (BNIs) in excess of fifteen thousand US dollars or Euros to submit a truthful declaration to the designated competent authorities.
Countries may opt from among the following three types of declaration systems: (i) a written declaration system for all travellers, (ii) a written declaration system for those travellers carrying an amount of currency or BNIs above the threshold and (iii) an oral declaration system. These systems are described below in their pure forms. However, it is not uncommon for countries to opt for a mixed system.
(a) Written declaration system for all travellers: In this system, all travellers are required to complete a written declaration before entering the country. This would include questions on a common or customs declaration form. In practice, travellers must declare whether or not they are carrying currency or BNIs (e.g., by ticking a yes or no box).
(b) Written declaration system for travellers carrying amounts above a threshold: In this system, all travellers carrying an amount of currency or BNIs above a preset designated threshold are required to complete a written declaration form. In practice, travellers who are not carrying currency or BNIs over the designated threshold are not required to fill out any forms.
(c) Oral declaration system for all travellers: In this system, all travellers are required to orally declare if they carry an amount of currency or BNIs above a prescribed threshold. This is usually done at customs entry points where travellers are required to choose between the ‘red channel’ (goods to declare) and the ‘green channel’ (nothing to declare). The traveller’s choice of channel is considered the oral declaration. In practice, travellers do not declare in writing but are required to actively report to a customs official.
While countries have followed the advice of the FATF, the laws in these countries are not identical. For example, Nigeria and the United Kingdom require all travellers to orally declare if they carry an amount of currency above the prescribed threshold, while the United States requires travellers who carry an amount of currency above a preset designated threshold to complete a written declaration form.
This paper compares the approach adopted by Nigeria and United Kingdom with that of the United States to determine the best approach. This is likely the one that strikes a fair balance between protecting the financial system against money launderers and upholding equality before the law.
Keywords: Cash Couriers, Physical Cross-Border Transportation of Currency, Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing
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