SCUML was established by the Federal Government in September 2005 in compliance with the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004 which was subsequently repealed and amended to Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011(as amended) and most recently to Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2022.

SCUML was created as part of measures for the implementation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations on Anti- Money Laundering /Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) in Nigeria.

The FATF requires Countries to implement 40 Recommendations which are
considered as international standard for combating money laundering and terrorist financing as well as the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

The recommendations include amongst others the establishment of Legal and Institutional framework for the effective implementation of the AML/CFT measures in all Countries. This led to the enactment of the Money Laundering Prevention and Prohibition Act, 2022 and the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011, (as amended) in Nigeria.

SCUML was created to implement specific sections of the Act in line with the FATF recommendations for the implementation of AML/CFT measures within the Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) Sector in Nigeria.

SCUML is statutorily under the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment but operationally domiciled within the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as the Commission drives the operational activities of the Unit in line with Sections 6(C) and 7(2) of the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004.