By Kayode Tokede
About 10 commercial banks are currently under intense pressure over Economic Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) money-laundering investigation, our correspondent has gathered.
According to an insider source, the Commission officially communicated these banks to explain their roles in politicians’ related money-laundering via electronic transfer.
The source in the commission further explained to our correspondent that names of the banks would not be disclosed due to political tension in the country as it might further destabilize the financial institutions.
The acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu in Lagos during the weekend at an event in Lagos said statistics available to the EFCC shows that 10 banks evacuated out of Nigeria through Travelex Nigeria Limited, the sums of GBP £50,832,560; USD $8,057,756; EURO #39,986,560 and RAND-7,500,000.
According to him, “The reasons for these evacuations are still sketchy. We must note that the impact of illicit financials flows from the country undermine the stability and integrity of the financial institutions.”
He revealed that intelligence reports indicate that commercial banks are aiding their customers to receive foreign financial inflow to their accounts in neighbouring countries, where they have branches like Ghana, Republic of Niger and other West African countries.
“The money is then couriered into Nigeria through the land borders to circumvent declaration and reporting,” he stated.
The Spokesperson of EFCC, Mr. Tony Orilade in a chat with Nigerian NewsDirect during the weekend refused to disclose names of the 10 banks involved, maintaining that “the Acting chairman of EFCC did not mention the names of affected banks based on a purpose.
“He will not mention names of affected banks so as not to destabilize the financial sector.”
Following the EFCC investigation, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week issued a manual mandating banks to report all customers’ monthly transaction above N100 million to management and audit committee of their board.
The CBN in its ‘Anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) policy and procedure’ manual also noted that reports of all customers’ foreign transactions are screened on the SWIFT sanction screening system monthly.
The Money-laundering Prohibition Act, 2011 (as amended) stipulates among others, the following penalty for contravention: “ A person who contravenes the provision of subsection (2) of this section is liable on conviction to a term of not less than seven years but not more than 14 years imprisonment.
Other sanctions stipulated by the Act include withdrawal of licence and corporate organisations that persist in committing the offence for which it was convicted in the first instance, the regulators may withdraw or revoke the certificate or licence of the body corporate.
The apex bank last year penalized four commercial banks following allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and subsequent investigations carried out by the apex bank in March 2018.
According to CBN, a sum of $3,448,119,321.72 was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of the illegally issued CCIs.
Similarly, the sums of $2,632,005,623.78, $1,766,263,212.75 and $348,914,501.30 were repatriated by Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, respectively during the period 2007 and 2015.
The CBN investigation further revealed that on account of illegal conversion of MTN shareholders’ loan to preference shares (interest free loan) of $399,594,146.00, the sum of $8,134,312,397.63 was illegally repatriated by the company.
Accordingly, CBN had directed the affected banks to immediately refund the respective sums to the CBN but the case was later settled out of court.