Mr. Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria,has revealed that he rejected a ₦405 million brief from a former governor to help him launder funds abroad.
He asked lawyers not to succumb to the lure of filthy lucre to assist politically exposed persons (PEPs) to commit financial crimes.
Falana’s testimony at an anti-corruption workshop in Abuja was contained in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) monthly magazine, ALERT, released to journalists on Friday.
Falana said: “The governor asked me to assist him in transferring money abroad, and that I should claim it to be proceeds from sale of his property in Nigeria.
“And the price was extremely attractive. He was going to pay me a million pounds then, when money was money.
“The governor said he had chosen me for the shady deal, because ‘nobody will suspect you.’
“I told him, ‘Your Excellency, so it is my reputation that you want to buy with your one million pounds?’’
“Some of my colleagues thought I was stupid, but those who accepted the offer later found themselves in trouble, as they were arrested and humiliated. They were only lucky not to have been charged to court.”
He advised lawyers against being used by politically exposed persons.
He added: “Lawyers have a paramount role to play in the fight against economic and financial crimes, as they are the ones usually employed by well-heeled members of the society to help perfect documents for illicit transactions, and to cover up their tracks.”
Falana faulted the ruling of Justice Gabriel Kolawole of a Federal High Court, Abuja, which held that Section 5 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 could not be applied to lawyers.
The judge in the ruling restrained the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML), from enforcing the section as it relates to legal practitioners.