Nigeria: CBN Gets Court Order to Freeze 193 More Bank Accounts

9 April 2021

Obinna Chima

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has obtained three different court judgments from the Federal High Court, Abuja to freeze an additional 193 bank accounts belonging to corporates and individuals, pending the outcome of the investigation into the allegations of foreign exchange (FX) infractions against those affected.

This comes less than 24 hours after the central bank revealed it had gotten a court order to freeze 11 bank accounts.

The court ruled that there should be a restriction on the affected accounts for a period of 45 days, pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

The affected accounts in the three suits posted on the CBN website yesterday, belong to Bluebeam Capital Limited, whose 59 separate accounts were listed; 33 separate bank accounts in different banks belonging to Sethwealth Ventures; 17 bank accounts belonging to Seasons Bureau De Change; Lat-Ade Logistics (four bank accounts); Sani Polo Concept Enterprises (five bank accounts); Saneo Global Resources (eight bank accounts); Romvic Ventures Limited (seven bank accounts); and Enychristo Enterprises (three bank accounts).

In addition, some of the individual bank accounts affected were listed as Nuhu Abubakar (three bank accounts); Adenmosun Lateef Jimoh (five bank accounts); Lateef Adenmosun (six bank accounts); Sani Abdullahi (three bank accounts); Ezeh Onyebuchi C (three bank accounts); Okpalaugo Ifeanyi Paul; Chinweuba Okoye Sunday; among others.

In all the cases, the judge ruled that the orders were granted, "in the interim and shall last for only 45 days pending the conclusion of an investigation by the CBN."

It added: "The applicant (CBN) shall publish this order in its website within three days from today. Any person or persons that is aggrieved by this order shall approach this court to seek to set aside, discharge or have the order reviewed without waiting for the expiration of 45 days given in the law, but upon good reasons shown.

"The order is renewable on expiration upon good reasons shown. This suit is adjourned to May 17, 2021, for mention."

Meanwhile, more facts emerged yesterday about the court order to freeze the bank customers' accounts.

For instance, sources close to the CBN disclosed that for the 11 bank accounts that were published on Wednesday, the regulator may have sought the court order to enable it to investigate suspicious transactions on the accounts allegedly linked to illegal foreign exchange operators in excess of $160 million.

But the finding revealed that the bank accounts owned by a certain Albert Austin Ugochukwu and five other business concerns were alleged to be involved in in operating as illegal foreign exchange operators; an act that contravenes the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring & Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and Section 58(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991 (as amended).

When contacted for clarification, the Acting Director of the Corporate Communications Department, Osita Nwanisobi, declined comments on the investigation, but noted that the CBN would do all within its mandate and the extant laws of the country to check any act contrary to its goal of ensuring sanity in the Nigerian foreign exchange market.

According to him, it was the Bank's statutory duty to maintain external reserves to safeguard the international value of the Naira, hence it would carry out actions to check the pressure on the foreign exchange rate.

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