Naira Redesign: EFCC Begs BDCs, Bankers for Info on Illicit Deposits
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) and the Association of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria (ACCOBIN) have been urged to provide prompt information on illicit deposits as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tries to control the volume of cash in the financial system.
Last Wednesday, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the bank would redesign the higher banknotes; N200, N500, and N1,000 to curb the red-hot inflation and counterfeiting.
He said from December 15, 2022, the new notes would be introduced and by January 31, 2023, the old note would no longer be accepted as legal tender in the country.
Since the announcement, Naira notes stashed in different places are beginning to find their way into the financial system and have weakened the value of the Naira at the parallel market. The Naira was exchanged with the Dollar on Wednesday at N850/$1.
To curtail this, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided some BDC operators in Abuja on Tuesday. The agency now wants to work with the forex traders to bring calm into the market.
The Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, held a meeting with the leaders of ACCOBIN and ABCON in Lagos and he used the occasion to explain to them that the agency intends to tackle FX malpractices, money laundering and other fraudulent activities in the nation’s financial sector.
He asked the two groups, which he described as critical stakeholders in the financial services sector, to promptly give information about fraudulent activities, especially illicit deposits and the movement of money through deposit money banks.
“In view of the recent move by the CBN to redesign and re-issue higher denominations of the Nigerian currency, the Naira, there is a need for us to be proactive and be circumspect of the actions of the criminals who will use the financial institutions to launder illicit funds and commit other nefarious activities.
“It is important for you to understand what this policy is all about, considering the fact that a lot of activities will happen, particularly as the 2023 general elections approach.
“We want to work with you to get more information on how to deal with these issues,” he said.
Mr Bawa, who stressed that the EFCC believes that the financial institutions have an important role to play in ridding Nigeria of financial and economic crimes, also charged the banks’ compliance officers and BDC operators to be wary of activities of criminals who might want use the financial institutions to hoard monies for the purpose of vote buying.
He emphasised the need for financial institutions to take Know Your Customer (KYC) seriously and improve intelligence sharing with the commission.
“The EFCC cannot do the job alone. We need to work with you as critical stakeholders, particularly in ensuring a seamless exchange of relevant information to forestall the commission of economic and financial crimes.
“We need better cooperation, synergy, collaboration, intelligence sharing, and, if need be, joint operations with you.
“If there is better management, in terms of communication about the people bringing in monies or the modus operandi being used to disguise this origin of the monies, it will go a long way in tackling the issue of money laundering and financial crimes.
“You are very critical in the fight against economic and financial crimes. This is because, at the end of it, money leaves the bank and money goes in, either for deposit or withdrawal,” the EFCC chief said.
Mr Bawa said “the issue of KYC must go beyond citing utility bills and receipts of customers. This needs to be taken further to forestall cybercrime.”
He also called on the banks to continually develop vetting mechanisms with a view to addressing insider abuse by staff.
In his remarks, Mr Boye Ogunlade, Chairman of ACCOBIN, expressed his satisfaction over the engagement, adding that “this is a good initiative and we hope that it should be held regularly.”