Guinea-Bissau crisis: CBN to sanction banks over accounts of indicted 19 politicians

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is set to sanction Nigerian Banks operating in Guinea-Bissau over failure to disclose account details of 19 politicians identified as obstructing the implementation of Conakry agreement.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in February hit 20 Guinea-Bissau politicians and businessmen with sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes.

They were accused of undermining efforts to resolve a prolonged political crisis.

The apex bank directed commercial banks, subsidiaries and associated companies within five working days to render suspicious transaction reports to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

According to Nigerian NewsDirect, four leading Nigerian Banks are operating in Guinea-Bissau.

The Director, Financial Policy and regulation department, Mr. Kevin Amugo in a chat with Nigerian NewsDirect during the weekend explained that the apex bank was working based on ECOWAS recommendation but not a Nigerian issue.

In his words, “The CBN does not know anything about the 19 individuals. It is just ECOWAS recommendation to sanction those 19 individuals. We are to ensure as a member of the ECOWAS to find out if an individual has account with any of the banks under our purview.”

In a signed document, Amugo stated that, “the ECOWAS authority of heads of state and government adopted a resolution on February 4, 2018 to impose targeted sanctions on 19 individuals identified to be obstructing the implementation of Conakry agreement aimed at resolving the political crisis in Guinea Bissau.

“ The resolution was subsequently ratified by the peace and security Council (PSC) of the African Union and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council resolution 2402 (2018).

“ You are by this circular, required to report to the CBN within five working days, the existence of the account (s) operated by the attached targeted individuals and their related interests. You are also required to ensure that your subsidiaries and associated companies conduct similar checks and render suspicious transaction reports to the NFIU, accordingly.”

The impasse has sparked regular protest marches and raised fears of instability that diplomats feared could be exploited by drug traffickers, who have long used the turbulent nation as a transit point for shipments between South America and Europe.

Under the ECOWAS deal aimed at ending the impasse, Vaz had been meant to name a prime minister agreed in consensus with the rival faction, which is headed by former Prime Minister Domingo Simoes Pereira.

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