Economy

New naira: Beware of currency hoarders, EFCC warns BDC operators

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has urged Bureau de Change operators to be wary of currency hoarders who would attempt to offload the currencies they had illegally stashed away.

The EFCC made this known in a statement released on Wednesday while backing the Central Bank of Nigeria’s plan to redesign the naira notes.

While applauding the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria, to redesign and reissue higher denominations of the Naira, the EFCC boss, stated how it had worked closely in the recent past with the CBN and some other regulators in the financial sector to determine how best to stabilize the country’s monetary policy environment.

Speaking at a press briefing yesterday, October 26, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele announced that the apex bank had obtained the approval of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to redesign and issue new N200, N500 and N1000 notes that shall come into circulation by the 15th of December, 2022.

In a reaction to this development, the EFCC boss, Abdulrasheed Bawa described the move by the apex bank as “a well-considered and timely response” to the challenges of currency management which has negatively impacted the country’s monetary policy and security imperatives.

He said, “The EFCC, the CBN and some other regulators in the financial sector have worked closely in the recent past to determine how best to stabilize the country’s monetary policy environment. It is heart-warming that the CBN has demonstrated courage in taking this bold decision which I believe will bring sanity to the currency management situation in Nigeria.”

He then called on operators in the Nigerian financial services sector, especially deposit money banks and bureau de change operators to work within the guidelines provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure the seamless withdrawal of the old currency.

Also warning that EFCC will monitor the process to ensure that unscrupulous players, currency speculators and their cohorts among the BDCs do not undermine the exercise.

He also charged banks to be alive to their reporting obligations and not assist unscrupulous customers in laundering suspected proceeds of crimes through their system.

The EFCC boss further pointed out that the objectives which the CBN seeks to achieve with the redesign and reissue of the higher denomination Naira notes were in tandem with the objectives of the Money Laundering Prevention Prohibition Act 2022, which criminalizes the conduct of cash transactions above a certain threshold.

According to Section 2 (1) of the Money Laundering Act 2022 “No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding— (a) N5,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual; or (b) N10,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of a body corporate.”

“It is, therefore, pertinent to issue this stern warning to Bureau de Change operators to be wary of currency hoarders who would attempt to seize this opportunity to offload the currencies they had illegally stashed away.”, he warned.

The EFCC chairman further stated that the Commission will spare no effort to bring to book any financial services operator who fails to work with extant laws and regulations.

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