CBN Alerts Banks on Arrest of Nigerian, Others Over Seizure of Fake $1bn Bound for Africa

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has issued a warning to banks and other financial institutions regarding the arrest of a Nigerian individual and four others.

They stand accused of being involved in a currency counterfeiting operation worth $1 billion, intended for use in African countries.

Therefore, the central bank, pursuant to Regulation 4 of the CBN Anti-Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Countering Proliferation Financing of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Financial Institutions) Regulations, 2022, (CBN AML/CFT/CPF Regulations), directed financial institutions to conduct searches on their database to determine any information related to the identified individuals. The apex bank stated this in an administrative letter to banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), dated August 23, 2023, which was signed by the CBN Director, Financial Policy and Regulations Department, Chibuzo Efobi.

The CBN also asked them to check whether they maintain any accounts or hold any funds or economic resources for the persons involved. The banks were further requested to identify and file suspicious transactions reports to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and render NIL reports to the unit where no such records exist. The CBN also directed the banks to comply with the directive immediately.

The arrested persons were identified as Dele Bolade Samson Babaola, who holds both Nigerian and Swedish citizenship. Others were Kean Kwasi Arhin from Ghana; Netanel Jacob Weiss, from the United Kingdom; BO Nils Olof Forsanker and Peter Willi Herbert Schick both from Sweden.

The central bank has stepped up its vigilance against money laundering activities to further protect the financial system. On July 6, the CBN urged banks and other financial institutions (OFIs) to be vigilant and alert to possible emerging risks resulting from the circumvention of measures taken to protect the international financial system. The central bank in an administrative circular issued following the outcome of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) plenary held between June 21-23, 2023, had further alerted the banks on the addition of Cameroon, Croatia, and Vietnam to the list of jurisdictions under increased monitoring by FATF. The apex bank further stressed that the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Iran, and Myanmar remained on the list of high-risk jurisdictions subject to “Call for Action”, urging that enhanced due diligence should be applied, and in severe cases, countermeasures may need to be implemented to safeguard the international financial system.

The bank had emphasized that the suspension of the Russian Federation’s membership in the FATF remained in effect. In light of the development, the central bank had further directed financial institutions to note all additions to jurisdictions under “Increased Monitoring” as well as high-risk jurisdictions subject to a “Call for Action” and take necessary measures to mitigate these risks effectively. The FATF is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog that sets international standards that aim to prevent illegal activities and the harm they cause to society. THISDAY however, gathered that the jurisdictions under increased monitoring are actively working with the FATF to address strategic deficiencies in their regimes to counter money laundering, terrorist financing, and proliferation financing.