Accounts receiving illicit forex risk being frozen, regulator warns

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned all the nation’s banks to henceforth freeze all accounts receiving illegal foreign exchange (forex) inflows into the country. This is just as the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Mr Godwin Emefiele has identified capacity deficits as a major challenge facing countries in the West African region.

The apex bank, in a circular entitled: “Illicit International Money remittances through the banking system”, signed by its acting Director, Trade and Exchange Department, WD Gotring, to all authorised dealers and the general public, noted that some banks are operating accounts either as companies, or firms masquerading as individuals for the purpose of illegally receiving money transfer flow into those accounts for onward disbursements to recipients in Nigeria.

The apex bank then directed the banks to conduct Know Your Customs Business (KYCB) checks on all their customers to ensure that they do no transact illegal/illicit flows.

Consequently, CBN wants the banks to identify and freeze accounts receiving illicit flows and  to submit the mandate and account details of the accounts held in naira or foreign currency to the CBN for onward reporting to the security  agencies.

In the same vein, Emefiele at the 20th anniversary of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) in Lagos said the socio-economic capacity deficits in West Africa had been a challenge in the region in spite of the efforts to achieve sustainable development.

Represented by the Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Dr Sarah Alade, the Governor said, “Those deficits continue to inhibit efforts in implementing their developmental strategies and policies and in achieving their desires development outcomes.”

According to him, weak capacity in its various dimensions has continued to be the problem of the continent. The governor said the member countries needed to continue to support the objectives of WAIFEM which had been established for the purpose of capacity building.

He stressed the need to ensure that WAIFEM becomes the training and capacity building institution of ECOWAS.

Emefiele said, “We need to fast track it to avail the entire ECOWAS countries opportunity to benefit from WAIFEM’s capacity building programmes.”

Also, Executive Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia and Chairman, Board of Governors of WAIFEM, Mr Milton Alvin, said WAIFEM had recorded success story in its efforts to access the best human resources across the region. Alvin added that WAIFEM as an institute had over the years engaged cost effectiveness in operations.

He stressed that WAIFEM had always used partnership and networking to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of member countries.

The chairman said the institute also allowed the member countries to adopt best practices at minimal cost and engage them in capacity building to foster technology transfer.

In the same vein, Emefiele called on governors of regional central banks to work together towards ensuring that theWAIFEM becomes the training and capacity building institution of the Economic Community of West African. States (ECOWAS).

While commending the founding central bank governors like Momoduo Clark Banjo(of blessed memory), former governor of central bank of the Gambia, former governor of central bank of Ghana Dr. Godfried K.Agama and Dr. Paul Oguma of Nigeria among others for their vision and tenacity, Emefiele noted that WAIFEM was essentially conceived as a capacity building institution  with important functions of networking among public sector officials responsible for macroeconomic policy formulation and implementation with the aim of promoting regional integration.

Likewise, the Director-General,WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said the institute has grown to be a formidable player in capacity building on foreign exchange management as it. Tries to manage the knowledge gap  in monetary policy management. He added that WAIFEM is partnering with the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) on e-learning.