Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), has disclosed that the federal government is ready to prosecute any person suspected to have engaged in foreign exchange round-tripping, among other malpractices in the foreign exchange markets.
To this end, he said he has directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate and confirm information available to government on the nefarious activities of persons and banks involved in such practices within and outside the country.
“Let me restate in the strongest terms that these nefarious malpractices by unscrupulous individuals and institutions will no longer be tolerated. In this regard, measures are already in place to deal with the infractions decisively and relevant security agencies are on the red alert to investigate these infractions and appropriate sanctions shall follow accordingly,” he said.
Malami, who made the disclosure to newsmen wednesday in Abuja, said the government had done its preliminary investigations and has proof, adding that all that was left was for EFCC to commence the probe and prosecution of all the indicted persons and institutions that had illicitly profiteered from the wide spread between the official rate of the dollar and the parallel market rate.
According to him, available reports at the disposal of the government had confirmed suspicions that the current value of the naira was not reflective of economic factors or demand and supply forces alone, but was the deliberate action of some individuals who are undermining the current efforts of the present administration to reposition the economy on the path to sustainable growth through diversification and greater accountability.
He further disclosed that the federal government was aware of the insidious activities of certain elements within some strategic national institutions, who rather than exert their regulatory powers, have chosen to use their strong accomplices within the system to manipulate the foreign exchange market for personal corrupt gains to the detriment of the national economy.
“It has become obvious that having failed in the attempt to force devaluation, certain forces have now aligned to create an artificial situation whose primary purpose is to undermine the economic programmme of the Buhari administration.
“We are witnessing manipulation and coordinated speculative activities in the foreign exchange market leading to the current wide differential between the official rate at the Central Bank of Nigeria and the parallel market rate in a manner that defies rational economic analysis,” he said.
Some of the offences alleged to have been committed by these institutions and individuals include forex round-tripping, rendition of false forex utilisation data, non-repatriation of export proceeds, use of forex for non-eligible purposes, consumption of forex transactions with inadequate, expired and or forged documents, and failure to report forex end users who default in the submission of required documents, amongst others.
While assuring the public that the government would continue to provide a sustainable platform for the forex market to thrive in Nigeria, Malami appealed to all Nigerians to support government’s efforts in sanitising and stabilising the forex market for the good of all.
He added that “government has emphatically restated its priority responses which will be geared towards diversifying the economy, promoting greater accountability within the system by blocking leakages of revenue, undertaking a robust assets recovery process in Nigeria and overseas, and prosecution of all treasury looters in accordance with the law”.