The anti- graft agency is said to be working on intelligence that some forces with massive naira inflow have mobilized resources and are busy buying up available foreign currencies especially the United States dollar, to either hoard or smuggle the same out of Nigeria.
Some operatives of the Commission have also been spotted at major airports in the country, in what a source said is a coordinated nationwide operation that will be extended to all the major commercial cities such as Kano, Lagos and Port Harcourt.
There has lately been a run on the value of the Naira with the currency exchanging for over N700 to a dollar.
The EFCC spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, was not immediately available for comment.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that it will resume sales of foreign exchange to operators of Bureau de Change (BDCs) from Monday, September 7, 2020.
According to a statement from the apex bank on Wednesday, the decision to inject liquidity into the FOREX market is crucial to boosting the naira against the dollar.
It added that the sale will be gradual and done twice a week while stressing that the interventions made in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) window will plunge market speculators into losses following their failure to heed to warning signs from the CBN.
Speaking on the issue, the Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, said the sale will be done “twice a week – Mondays and Wednesdays, hence the BDCs had been directed to ensure that their accounts with their banks are adequately funded to ensure seamless transactions.”
While warning speculators to desist from what he termed unpatriotic tendencies, Okorafor urged registered BDCs to comply with the CBN guidelines as the Bank would not hesitate in sanctioning any erring dealer.
He also assured that those requiring foreign exchange for purposes of travel, educational fees, and other Invisibles could obtain such over the counter from their respective banks.
The naira began to rebound against the dollar, exchanging for N420 to a dollar in the BDC segment of the market on Wednesday, after trading for as high as N480 to the dollar on Monday in the I&E window, prompting fears that the Naira was in a free fall.
Meanwhile, the President of the Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe has expressed support for the CBN action, noting that the anticipated intervention in the BDC sector would ensure stability in the foreign exchange market.
According to him, speculators in the forex market have been dealt a huge blow with the sharp drop in the exchange rate, which he said would continue a downward trend with the resumption of international flights in and out of the country.
The apex bank had in March this year, suspended the sales of foreign currency to Bureau De Change operators (BDCs) in the country, for two weeks, following a request by the BDC for the CBN to grant them a two-week holiday as a measure to control the spread of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Recently, the Federal Government announced that it will open its airspace for international flights to resume on September 5, 2020.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted a two-week market holiday to the Bureau De Change (BDC) operators.
The President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday, noting that this comes into effect from Friday, March 27.
Mr. Gwadabe said this follows a request which was sent to the apex bank to grant the association market holidays given the ongoing challenges faced in local and global economies due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.
He added that a notice of CBN’s approval was sent to BDC operators and directors, stating that sales of foreign exchange to BDCs is now suspended for a tentative period of two-weeks.
He also advised the public not to go into panic buying, hoarding and patronising street traders as the apex bank has enough reserves to sustain supplies when the BDCs return to operations.
“This is to urgently bring to the notice of our members nationwide that following our letter of recommendation to the CBN to grant us a market holiday on our bidding days as a proactive and preventive measure on the scourge of the novel COVID-19 and the ban on all air/land travels.
“The CBN has granted our request, effective tomorrow Friday, March 27, 2020, there shall be no market days henceforth for a tentative period of two weeks,” the statement read in part.
The ABCON President advised members to observe strict guidelines on the preventive measures on the dangers of the COVID-19.
Gwadabe said that CBN/NFIU is tracking large movements of funds within the financial sector and the need to be cautious.
The Katsina State High Court has convicted and sentenced one Sale Elleman to three years imprisonment for offences of criminal breach of trust, cheating, misappropriation, and diversion of funds.
The convict’s journey to prison began when the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) received a petition from one Salisu Tambaya who alleged that Elleman, a Bureau de Change (BDC) operator, allegedly induced him in parting with the sum of N13million under the pretext that the money would be invested in the BDC business.
A statement by the EFCC spokesman Wilson Uwujaren on Friday revealed that Justice Abdullahi Yusuf convicted and sentenced Elleman in his ruling on March 8.
The charge read: ”That you Saleh Mohammed Elleman between 27th May, to 25th June, 2014, in Katsina within the judicial division of High Court of Justice of Katsina State being entrusted with certain property to wit the sum of N13,000,000.00 by one Salisu Tambaya, committed Criminal Breach of Trust and that you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 312 of the Penal Code”.
Upon his arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.
After diligent prosecution, Justice Yusuf was convinced that the convict was entrusted with the property in question, based on the testimonies of witnesses and the exhibits tendered.
The judge held that “although the accused claimed to have invested the money, there was no evidence as to when the business commenced.”
“No any record whatsoever of the purported business transactions provided; it is in evidence that the accused could not give a satisfactory account of the said money,” he added.
Justice Yusuf consequently found the accused person guilty and sentenced him to three years imprisonment without an option of fine.
The convict was also ordered to restitute the sum of N12, 200,000 (twelve million two hundred thousand naira) to the complainant.
More than 700 Bureau De Change operators are inactive at the Central Bank of Nigeria forex window.
President of the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, Mr Aminu Gwadabe, says the development has rendered the BDCS under threat as uncompetitive exchange rate continues to hit their bottom line, and place the sustainability of their business in jeopardy.
According to Gwadabe, the regulator sells dollars to the BDCS at a higher rate compared to what the CBN sells to commercial banks.
He added that the practice was affecting their business because both the BDCS and banks were targeting the same market segment and customers.
A legal practitioner, Mr Isaac Anumudu, has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to reveal the identities of the owners of all the moneys being discovered by the Commission.
Mr Anumudu made the call on Sunrise Daily, in reaction to the series of cash recoveries made by the EFCC in the past few weeks, one of which was the discovery of a huge sum of money in an apartment in Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
He believes that the inability of the anti-graft agency to clarify the ownership of the recovered cash in Ikoyi is giving room for suspicion.
The lawyer wondered why the whistleblower could not reveal critical information as to who dropped the money and how it got to the apartment.
“First of all you look at the recoveries, the way and manner they came. There is a whistle blowing 49 million in Kaduna airport, how come someone would carry that humongous amount of money in Naira and not in Dollars to an airport?
“Why did the whistleblower identify and was able to blow whistle as to where the fund is, without information as to who dropped the money and how it got there?” Anumudu questioned.
He further criticised the funds found in a Bureau De Change at the Balogun Market in Lagos, stressing that the place was meant for exchange of all forms of currency.
“You tell me you found a million of Dollars in a Bureau De Change, what do they sell in a Bureau De Change? pure water, vegetable, cosmetics, provisions, no.
“What goes on in a Bureau De Change is exchange of all forms of currency, Dollar, Naira, Euro, Pound.
“So telling me you found, you didn’t tell us how that became illegal, you didn’t tell us whom you are pursuing, what lead you are pursuing that led you to finding that kind of money, you now suspect it was money gotten from corrupt practices.
“What whistle are you blowing if you whistle that you found law books in my office as a lawyer? There is nothing illegal in finding money in a Bureau De Change”, Mr Anumudu stated.
A Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the funds recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from an apartment in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State.
In his ruling on Thursday, Justice Muslim Hassan ordered that the 43 million dollars, 23 million Naira and 27,000 pounds be temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The judge gave till May 5, 2017 for any interested party in the funds to show cause why the money should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
The funds were recovered on Wednesday, following a whistle-blower’s confidential alert received by the Lagos Office of the anti-graft agency regarding some suspicious movement of bags in and out of the apartment.
The discovery came days after the EFCC announced the recovery of 547,730 euros; 21,090 dollars and 5,648,500 Naira from a Bureau de Change operator in Balogun Market, Lagos.
Nigeria’s Bureau De Change (BDC), operators, are set to introduce an online exchange rate platform and have also fixed the Naira to Dollar reference rate at 399.
The BDC Acting President, Mr Aminu Gwadabe, explained that the platform would help reduce the gap between the official inter-bank rate and parallel market rates, as well as eliminate multiple exchange rates in the country.
This was revealed at a press conference in Lagos, where Mr Gwadabe confirmed plans by licensed fx retailers to launch the online platform for thousands of its members starting from the end of January.
The commission recommended a review of the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Act to accommodate punishment for persons holding on to foreign currency.
The commission wants the law to empower the the Central Bank of Nigeria to jail people for up to two years or fine them for 20% of the amount of the foreign currency held in their possession for more than 30 days.
But the Senate’s through its spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, stated that the measure was disruptive and counter-productive and would undermine many of the reform efforts already underway in the legislature and by government ministries intended to boost investors’ confidence.
The proposed changes are said to be intended to help control capital flows and prevent foreign exchange from being taken out of Nigeria.
The Central Bank of Nigeria has raised the exchange rate for bureau de change operators to 385 naira per dollar.
This move is to encourage Nigerians in diaspora to use official channels to transfer earnings back home.
Prior to the announcement, the CBN allows BDCs to buy at 375 naira per dollar and sell at 381 naira per dollar.
In the meantime, the naira appreciated at the interbank foreign exchange market in response to intervention by the CBN.
The regulator sold 1.5 million dollars to stabilize the interbank exchange rate.
The local currency appreciated to 305 naira 5 kobo at the interbank and 455 naira to the greenback at the parallel market.
Meanwhile the CBN is also expected to license 20 new international money transfer operators in the coming weeks to handle an estimated 21 billion dollars annual diaspora remittances into the country.
This is part of efforts to stabilise the foreign exchange market.
The President of the Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria, Mr Aminu Gwadabe, believes the CBN’s policy on IMTOs will boost diaspora cash inflow into the country and force the dollar rates against the naira down.
The CBN had in August 31, licensed 11 IMTOs in addition to Western Union, Moneygram and RIA, which were earlier cleared by the regulator.