CBN, EFCC Tighten Noose on Economic Crimes

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Godwin Emefiele
Godwin Emefiele

Obinna Chima

Officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and their counterparts from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) thursday met with the aim of strengthening the fight against economic crimes.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had few weeks ago revealed that both institutions would be collaborating to expose banks, importers or organisations that collude with corrupt individuals to flout its policy on the restriction of foreign exchange (forex) to 43 items.

The meeting, which took place in Abuja, according to a statement issued yesterday by the apex bank’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, provided an opportunity for the two entities to share experiences and peculiar challenges in the fight against economic related crimes.

It said: “The two agencies adopted strategies aimed at curtailing the unwholesome activities of economic saboteurs, which include smuggling of commodities like rice, textile materials, fertilizer, wheat and other items on the prohibition list for accessing foreign exchange through official window, as well as tracking illicit financial flows.

“Other areas which the two agencies are collaborating include anti-money laundry and the monitoring of politically exposed persons in the country.”

According to the statement, the inter-agency meeting, chaired by the Director, Governors’ Department of the CBN, Mr. Jeremiah Abue, also agreed to improve the level of information-sharing and surveillance of the financial sector.

Emefiele had pointed out that given the remarkable success that had been achieved in stimulating domestic production of goods such as rice, cassava and maize, as a result of the restrictions placed on access to forex for the 43 items, the central bank intends to vigorously ensure that the policy remains in place.

He said additional efforts would be made to block any attempts by unscrupulous parties (both individuals and corporate) that intend to find other avenues of accessing forex, in order to import these items into Nigeria.
He warned: “The CBN’s Economic intelligence and Banking Supervision Departments will work very closely with the EFCC to expose and sanction any bank, company and or its directors or forex operator who colludes with unscrupulous individuals/companies to undermine the policy on 41 items.

“Such sanctions will include, but not limited to prohibiting all the banks in Nigeria from maintaining any bank accounts for any such institutions or persons in Nigeria.

“If you are caught as an individual or a company, we are saying that, that bank, that company and the individuals, that the central bank would prohibit all the Nigerian banks at same time, from maintaining any bank account for you.”