The Nigerian anti draft agencies, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC), have over the years harped on the fact that most monies looted and laundered in Nigeria were invested in the real estate sector of the economy. On the 26th of June 2022, the EFCC reported in many print and electronic media houses that it will henceforth focus its attention on the real estate developers and the sector generally, alleging that the real estate industry is providing safe haven for the laundering of proceeds of crimes in Nigeria.

As professionals in the real estate industry the Know Your Customer (KYC) policy should be driven with all sense of integrity in dealing with customers, especially big ticket customers. Our various professional codes of conducts and the Anti-Money laundry laws that operate in the Nigerian business environment allows us as professionals to carefully examine the nature of real estate transactions with clients and prospects before accepting or rejecting the offer.
Professionals, real estate agents and firms that are always in a quick lane to execute high profile business transactions without due process and due diligence are always. Most money launderers do not come in person for property transactions, lawyers, real estate firms and third parties are always their front line managers in their money laundering activities, and this is why real estate professionals must transact with caution in this regard. A hastily executed big ticket has the potential of attracting problems to the agents and the firms in the event of a problem.

The Know Your Customer (KYC) policy should apply in all elements of the real estate transaction because of the peculiar nature of the industry. Nigeria is a Country with a lot of high profile criminal elements, and the housing need of all these elements must be met legally even though most of their monies are illicitly acquired.

Only recently, the EFCC sounded a note of warning to landlords and estate agents across the nation that they should know the kind of persons they rent their houses to. This is coming on the heels of the increasing rate of advanced free fraud by young Nigerians who defraud innocent people and are always willing to pay heavily for the available accommodations to agents and landlords.

With all these criminal elements in our operating business environment, the onus is on us as real estate professionals to take the KYC policy seriously at every element of our transactions.
KYC is a compliance obligation real estate professionals should adhere to in our quest to engender an industry that is devoid of abetting criminal activities in our country. KYC documentations must be professionally and legally carried out for both individual and corporate clients in the real estate industry.

ESV Reward Chinedu Ugbomor is a Registered Estate Surveyor and Valuer. He is the Principal Consultant of Reward Ugbomor & Co, a firm of estate Surveyors and Valuers with diverse interest in the real estate market space. He sent in this piece from Asaba, Delta State, Nigeria.