The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has applauded the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign and reissue higher denominations of the Naira.
Speaking at a press briefing on Wednesday, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele announced that the apex bank had obtained the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to resign and issue new N200, N500 and N1,000 notes that shall come into circulation on December 15, 2022.
Responding to the development, the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa described the move by the apex bank as “a well-considered and timely response” to the challenges of currency management which has negatively impacted the country’s monetary policy and security imperatives.
“The EFCC, the CBN and some other regulators in the financial sector have worked closely in the recent past to determine how best to stabilize the country’s monetary policy environment.
“It is heart-warming that the CBN has demonstrated courage in taking this bold decision which I believe will bring sanity to the currency management situation in Nigeria”, he said.
He called on operators in the Nigerian financial services sector, especially deposit money banks and bureau de change operators to work within the guidelines provided by the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure seamless withdrawal of the old currency.
Bawa however warned that EFCC will monitor the process to ensure that unscrupulous players and currency speculators and their cohorts among the BDCs do not undermine the exercise.
He also charged banks to be alive to their reporting obligations and not assist unscrupulous customers in laundering suspected proceeds of crimes through their system.
The EFCC boss further pointed out that the objectives which the CBN seeks to achieve with the redesign and reissue of the higher denomination Naira notes, were in tandem with the objectives of the Money Laundering Prevention Prohibition Act 2022, which criminalizes the conduct of cash transactions above a certain threshold.
According to Section 2 (1) of the Money Laundering Act 2022, “No person or body corporate shall, except in a transaction through a financial institution, make or accept cash payment of a sum exceeding— (a) N5,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of an individual ; or (b) N10,000,000 or its equivalent, in the case of a body corporate.”
Optimistic that the new currency measure would further boost Nigerians’ embrace of banking culture and encourage the acceptance of cashless transactions, the EFCC Chairman recalled that the Commission had recently taken operational action against currency hoarders in major commercial cities of Nigeria.
“It is therefore pertinent to issue this stern warning to Bureau de Change operators to be wary of currency hoarders who would attempt to seize this opportunity to offload the currencies they had illegally stashed away.”
Noting that currency hoarders readily made their hoard available to criminal enterprise, the EFCC boss further stated that the Commission will spare no effort to bring to book any financial services operator who runs afoul of extant laws and regulations.