Financial experts last Monday said the Federal Government’s move to freeze all accounts not covered by Bank Verification Number (BVN) would check money laundering.
The financial experts told newsmen in Lagos while reacting to the court order by the Federal Government mandating banks to freeze all individual and corporate accounts not covered by BVN.
BVN is a unique identification number that can be verified and used to transact business across all the banking platforms in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court in Abuja ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the 19 commercial banks in the country to disclose all accounts in their custody and the balances in such accounts.
The court ordered the banks to disclose the details of all such accounts, their owners and their proceeds in their affidavit of compliance deposed to by their Chief Compliance Officers.
It also made an interim order directing the banks to freeze all the said accounts by stopping “all outward payments, operations or transactions’’ pending the hearing of the substantive application seeking the forfeiture of the balances in the accounts to the Federal Government.
The banks were also directed to disclose “any investments made with funds from these accounts without BVN in any products’’.
Such investments to be disclosed by the banks as directed by the court include “fixed/term deposits and their liquidation and interest incurred, bank acceptances, commercial papers and any other relevant information related to the transaction made on the accounts’’.
Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, Dr Uche Uwaleke, said that compliance with the court order would help to check fraudulent practices, including money laundering.
“I’m totally in support of the court order to freeze all individual and corporate accounts in commercial banks not covered by the BVN.
“It should have even been made long before now considering that the deadline issued by the CBN expired long ago,’’ Uwaleke said.
He said that operating an account without BVN violated the “know your customer’’ directive by the CBN as well as the money laundering Act.
“Why should a bank operate a non-BVN account except for fraudulent reasons?
“So, compliance with the court order will help to check fraudulent practices including money laundering,’’ Uwaleke added.
He said that it would also help to expose questionable sources of wealth such as ones from crime like kidnapping and theft of public funds.
“It will boost the government’s fight against corruption, improve the country’s image and promote investor confidence in Nigeria,’’ he stated.
Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, Prof. SheriffdeenTella, said that all accounts by now should have BVN unless an illegal account.
Tella said that it was wrong for banks to allow transactions in such accounts within the last 18 months.
“If transactions have been taking place in such accounts within the last 18 months, the bank itself will be in trouble,’’ Tella said.
He said that it was right to execute the order to allow for forfeiture of the illegal funds.
Currency Outside Banks Rises 4% To N2.29trn …As Credit To Govt Hits N32.5trn
Currency Outside Banks (CoB) rose Month-on-Month (MoM) by N90 billion or 4.09 percent to N2.29 trillion in August from N2.2 trillion in July 2023.
It has been on the increase since March, reflecting the impact of the implementation of the Supreme Court order that old N200, N500, and N1,000 notes remain in circulation till December 31, 2023.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Money and Credit data for August also showed that Currency-In-Circulation, CIC, stood at N2.66 trillion, representing a 2.7 percent rise from N2.59 trillion in July 2023.
Recall that the implementation of the Naira redesign and withdrawal of old banknotes by CBN sucked in about N1.81 trillion from CoB while crashing Currency-in-Circulation to N1.4 trillion in January 2023.
Meanwhile, Banks’ credit to the Government rose MoM by 0.62 percent from N32.5 trillion in August to N32.3 trillion in July.
Data from the CBN Money and Credit Statistics showed that credit to the private sector also rose by 1.1 percent to N54.7 trillion from N54.1 trillion.
This resulted in a 0.92 percent rise in Net domestic credit to N87.3 trillion in August from N86.5 trillion in July.
Cardoso Focuses On Monetary Policies To Save Naira
The new Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, has disclosed that he and his team will focus solely on monetary policies to strengthen the Naira.
To achieve this, he explained, they will have to abandon some of the policies of the estwhile CBN, Godwin Emefiele, and his team that has warranted the rising inflation in the country.
Cardoso stated this during his screening by the National Assembly, and confirmation as the CBN Governor on Tuesday..
Responding to questions from the lawmakers, Cardoso said the CBN is faced with numerous challenges which the team had identified and would address them.
“We have identified issues of corporate governance, diminished institutional autonomy, discontinuity of orthodox policies and foreign currency issues.
“Addressing inflation and price stability is the function of the CBN. We will address the issue of foreign exchange unification. If there is a need for interest rate alignment, we will do it for economic growth”, he stated.
To manage the economic policy, Cardoso said size matters, adding that the CBN team had identified macroeconomic indices and will facilitate new ways to attain $1trillion GDP in eight years.
On inflation, Cardoso said each will be tackled based on their causes.
“If the inflation is on food, we should ramp up production of food. If inflation is on energy, we know the challenges of energy. If you are importing, automatically you are importing inflation”, he said.
On money supply, the apex bank Governor said the way money has gone up in Nigeria, “that, itself, is behind inflation. It is the problem. It is a big problem, but going forward, we will do everything possible to ensure that deficit financing does not bring problems to us.
“These are the assurances I can give you coming from outside because we will maintain a good working relationship to block the excesses we had in the past.
“I believe that the CBN under us will have no choice but to embrace a culture of compliance”, Cardoso said, assuring that they will abide by the CBN Act.
“We will not wait for oversight before we interact with the lawmakers. We will have zero tolerance to abuse of processes. We recognize the fact that we need to work closely with these chambers at the National Assembly to ensure compliance”, he said.
According to him, deficit financing and undue money glut are responsible for 50 per cent of the inflation.
Consequently, he told the Senate that there is a need to stabilise the naira to settle Nigeria’s outstanding debts, stating that the country is only spending money in printing currency rather than bringing in revenues.
According to him, the immediate thing to look out for is to address operational issues, which are the unsettled obligations of the CBN wealth of N4 billion or N7 billion.
He stated that Nigeria will not make progress if it is not able to handle that side of foreign exchange rate.
Cardoso also noted that foreign exchange rate is worrisome, hence Nigeria must have a stable exchange rate.
Also speaking, a Deputy Governor, Philip Ikeazor, said the present CBN is going to strengthen governance and focus on monetary policies and not fiscal policies, noting that the country must decide to support the physical majors of the CBN and ensure that exportation thrive.
“We will think outside the box, tackle inflation and the free flow of naira”, he said.
The Deputy Governors screened and confirmed are on the day were: Emem Usoro, Abdullahi Dattijo, Bala Bello and Philip Ikeazor.
Seme Customs Intercepts 62 African Parrots On- Hawk
The new Controller of Customs, Seme Border Command, Timi Bomodi, has has disclosed that the command seized 69 smuggled birds from smugglers who had moved the birds from Kaduna enrout Benin Republic.
The discovery, according to him , was made while customs operatives at the border were on patrol along Seme– Badagry Expressway, acting on credible intelligence intercepted a Benin Republic-bound luxurious bus from Kaduna State..
Two suspects were arrested in connection with the seizure and six of the birds were reportedly dead, due to poor condition under which they were being moved.
The seizures, according to him, were worth over N6,859,932.
“Upon searching the bus, 51 live Green parrots, five live African Grey Parrots, five dead Green Parrots, one dead African Grey Parrot, and one live hawk in iron nets and a Paper Box were discovered. Six of the birds and two suspects were also arrested in connection with the seizure”, Bomodi said.
The African Parrot have a duty paid value (DPV) N6,859,932 only.
Bomodi condemned the criminal act by some members of the society considering that the trade in endangered wildlife contravenes the Convention on International Trade On Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora which is an International Agreement between Governments, of which Nigeria is a signatory
He warned the perpetrators of this illegal trade to “stay out of the Lagos – Abidjan corridor or they will continue to incur heavy losses if they so insist.
“In line with the dictates of the Nigeria Customs Service of promoting inter-agency collaboration and synergy, and considering the nature of the item, the seized Parrot will be handed over to the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Seme Command.
“Officials of the f National Park Service will be informed of this seizure as it is their responsibility to rehabilitate and protect them from further harm”.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
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