Illegal FX transactions: CBN orders banks to freeze 205 accounts

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…Belfour Energy tops list

By Kayode Tokede

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) between Wednesday and Thursday announced that it got an interim order from the Federal High Court, Abuja division, to freeze 205 bank accounts of individual and  companies’ for 45 days.

The move by CBN is to enable it to conduct investigations into illegal foreign exchange activities.

The apex bank on Wednesday announced the freezing of 11 bank accounts and on Thursday, 194 total bank accounts across key commercial banks were frozen.

According to freezing Order-Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/236/2021, between Governor, CBN & Sethwealth Ventures, Sethwealth Ventures Limited and Seasons Bureau De Change Limited on Thursday, our correspondent gathered that 50 bank accounts were frozen.

A freezing order – Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/342/2021, between Governor, CBN & Nuhu Abubakar & 24 others has 84 bank accounts, while Freezing Order – Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/235/2021, between Governor, CBN & Bluebeam Capital Ltd has 60 bank accounts frozen.

The Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/342/2021 has 25 companies and individuals as defendants.

A top official in the CBN said the court order was to freeze accounts related to illegal foreign exchange transactions, stressing that after investigation in 45 days, the apex bank would decide on the next line of action.

The apex bank on its official website on Wednesday directed banks to freeze all transactions on the listed accounts and all other bank accounts of the defendants for 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN

The court order stated on Wednesday that, “The order follows an exparte motion, dated March 12 and filed on March 16, seeking the mandatory order of the court to direct to freeze all transactions on the listed accounts and all other bank accounts of the defendants for 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

According to the statement from the CBN who is the plaintiff, the listed names of the defendants/respondents include Albert Austin Ugochukwu with 2 bank accounts, Belfour Energy & Allied Services, Belfour Oil and Gas Limited with 3 bank accounts, Circle Flow Integrated Services, Kacynaus Reality Nigeria Limited with 3 bank accounts and Tasmara Integrated Services.

The court document also states that the order was given by the court upon reading the Affidavit in support of the Application, Affidavit of Urgency, Verifying Affidavit and Affidavit of Non-Multiplicity of action all deposed by an Assistant Manager of the CBN, Central Business District, Oluwatoyosi Suwebat Oladipo, together with an attached exhibit.

The order from the Federal High Court partly reads, “An interim Order is made empowering the applicant to direct the Head Office of First City Monument Bank Ltd to freeze forthwith all transactions on the bank accounts listed on the motion paper for a period of 45 days only pending the outcome of investigation currently being conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

The document also states that the order which was given by the Presiding Judge, A.R. Mohammed, was renewable on expiration but only on good reasons shown and any person affected by this order was entitled to approach the court to seek to set aside, discharge or have the order reviewed for good reasons.

The CBN has been clamping down on businesses and individuals with suspicious bank transactions especially for money laundering and illegal forex transactions in recent times.

Just recently, the federal government, while confirming the arrest and detention of some bureau de change operators, said that they were being investigated for money laundering and facilitating money to terrorists.