Officials of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) have intercepted €325,640 and $30,000 (about N175 million) being smuggled from Greece and Austria.
The suspected laundered money concealed inside envelopes and shoes were seized at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, during the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish airline flight.
Two suspects have been arrested in connection with the smuggled currencies.
NDLEA commander at the Lagos Airport, Ahmadu Garba, said the money was found during routine search of passengers.
“During the inward screening of passengers on a Turkish flight, we discovered €325,640 and $30,000. One of suspected passengers, Edos Nicholas was found with €279,190 while Hallowell Prince Lovely, was in possession of €46,450 and $30,000. They were both apprehended,” Ahmadu said.
Chairman of the NDLEA, Muhammad Mustapha Abdallah had directed the Director of Assets and Financial Investigation of the Agency, Mrs. Victoria Egbase to take over the case.
According to Abdallah, “This is a suspected case of money laundering. Criminal groups seek to conceal the origin of illegally obtained money. It is pertinent, therefore, for us to trace the origin of the money and prevent the introduction of criminal funds into the economy. Consequently, I have directed that the case be meticulously investigated.”
Preliminary investigation revealed that both suspects were frequent travellers, who were the target of International Drug Trafficking Organizations. Besides, their sources of income must be verified. Edos Nicholas who claimed to be working in a bakery in Austria, said the money found on him was given to him.
“The money does not belong to me. I was given by different people in Europe to give to their relatives. I have been living in Vienna, Austria for over 15 years.” He hails from Edo State.
The second suspect, Hallowell Prince, who also hails from Edo State, claimed that the money belonged to people and that he was asked to deliver it to the recipients in Nigeria.
“I live in Athens and I work in an African shop. I have lived there for 12 years. The money belongs to many people and some of them are my friends,” he said.
Abdallah said the cases would be properly investigated and necessary action taken as laundered funds could be used to finance terrorism and distort the economy among others.