The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), yesterday, agreed to cooperate, under the inter-agency framework, to strengthen the country's fight against economic crimes.Officials of the two government agencies, who met at the Head Office of the CBN in Abuja, may, among other things, make good the earlier threat by the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to bar culprits from opening bank accounts in Nigeria, as test case.
The Director of the Governors' Department at CBN, Jeremiah Abue, affirmed the apex bank's readiness to improve the level of information-sharing and surveillance of the financial sector.
Besides, he noted that the inter-agency meeting provided an opportunity for the two entities to share experiences and peculiar challenges in the fight against economic related crimes. According to him, they adopted strategies aimed at curtailing the unwholesome activities of economic saboteurs, which include smuggling of commodities like rice, textile materials, fertilizer, wheat and other items on the prohibition list for accessing foreign exchange through official window, as well as tracking illicit financial flows.Other areas, which the two agencies will step collaborations include anti-money laundry and the monitoring of politically exposed persons in the country.
Emefiele has severally warned that it is not going to be a journey as usual for banks, companies and individuals behind any activities aimed at undermining the extant policy on the 43 items banned from accessing foreign exchange at the official window of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as it is now declared economic sabotage.
He said that beside the immediate prosecution, which collaboration with EFCC is steadily fine-tuned, the culprits would not be banked by any other financial institution in the country for unspecified period of time.CBN's recent actions have proved that it is ready to make good all his threats, as in the last four months, Emefiele, has included two more items- fertilizer and textiles in the prohibition list, as promised.
"The remarkable success that has been achieved in stimulating domestic production of goods such as rice, cassava and maize, as a result of the restrictions placed by the CBN on access to forex for 41 items, the CBN intends to vigorously ensure that this policy remains in place."Additional efforts would be made to block any attempts by unscrupulous parties, both individuals and corporates, that intend to find other avenues of accessing forex, in order to import these items into Nigeria.
"The CBN's Economic intelligence and Banking Supervision Departments will work very hard with the EFCC to expose and sanction any, bank, company or foreign exchange operator that colludes with unscrupulous individuals/companies to undermine the policy on the items," he said.