By BAYO AMODU, MARK ITSIBOR, Abuja And BUKOLA IDOWU, Lagos
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reaffirmed its commitment to ensure that the Nigerian banking sector is not used as a means of money laundering in or outside the country or for any other form of illegal activities, its Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said yesterday.
Emefiele disclosed this in Abuja at the opening ceremony of the Regional Course on “Combating Money Laundering and other Financial Crimes,’’ organised by the West African Institution for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) with participants from the Central Bank, Ministry of Finance and law enforcement agencies of Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana and Liberia.
The event also saw the signing of a 1.3 million dollars agreement between the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and WAIFEM to assist the later expand its scope of activities within the next 18 months.
Emefiele, represented by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, CBN, Mr Kelvin Amugo, said the CBN was working closely with banks to ensure that ill-gotten-gains-of crime is not legitimised using the financial sector. “One of the core functions of the CBN is to promote a sound and stable financial system in Nigeria and combat money laundering to ensure that the financial system is safe and steady.
“Because of that, we have embarked on a number of initiatives. We have issued circulars to Security Compliance Officers at banks; we have also issued circulars on the importance of KYC (Know Your Customer) before any account is opened. Also, the recent BVN is all geared towards ensuring that the financial system is stable, to make sure that depositors in the banks are known depositors and not those that will use the banking system as a platform to carry out illegal activities,’’ he said.
Emefiele said that the CBN had supported the establishment of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Financial Intelligence Unit, as strategic to fighting the menace.
He said that Nigeria had also applied for membership of Financial Action Task Force on Money (FATF), which is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 by the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. He said that the FATF had already scheduled a visit to Nigeria later in the year as part of its procedure prior to admitting the country.
Also, the director general, WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, said that financial system stability was a major prerequisite for economic growth and development.
“Money laundering is a key threat to financial stability in any economy, especially to small and fragile economies in our sub-region. A number of predicate offences for money laundering are common in our region and these include drug trafficking, human trafficking, arms trafficking and counterfeit, to name a few,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, the executive secretary, ACBF, Prof. Emmanuel Nnadozie, said that for the past 15 years, the foundation had supported WAIFEM with about 8 million dollars. “The Purpose of the 1.3 million dollars grant being offered to the Institute is to enable WAIFEM to consolidate and expand the scope of its activities within the next 18 months.
“The support to WAIFEM is coming at a time when economies of countries in the sub-region continue to face shocks and dislocations in policy. Countries in the region continue to face the perennial problem of inadequate infrastructure, debt over
Meanwhile, the CBN yesterday injected the sum of $142.5 million into the inter-bank foreign exchange, days after intervening in the retail segment of the market with the sum of $254.3million.
A breakdown of the latest intervention shows that the Bank offered the sum of $100million to dealers in the wholesale segment, while it allocated the sum of $23 million to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) segment. Those requiring foreign exchange for invisibles such as tuition fees, medical payments and Basic Travel Allowance (BTA) received $19.5 million.
Spokesperson of the apex Bank, Isaac Okorafor said the CBN will continue to carry out its regular mediation in the market so as to keep the market liquid and guarantee the international value of the naira in line with its mandate.
While reiterating the Bank’s resolve to intervene in the market based on bids received from dealers on behalf of their respective customers, Okorafor said the CBN will not relent in ensuring transparency and efficiency in the sale of forex. According to him, this commitment prompted the Bank to mandate dealers to make public their forex utilization. He therefore urged all stakeholders to continually play their roles to guarantee transparency in the market.
It will be recalled that the CBN last Friday intervened in the retail segment of the forex market to the tune of $254.3m following bids received from forex dealers by the apex Bank. The figure sold by the Bank was for companies in the raw materials, agricultural, airline and petroleum industry.
Meanwhile, the naira maintained its stand at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the forex market, exchanging at an average of N364/$1 in Lagos, Abuja and Kano.
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