By G9ija

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has warned currency speculators and Bureau de Change (BDC) operators not to undermine the move by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to redesign and reissue higher denominations of the Naira.

EFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa in a statement on Wednesday commended the move by the apex bank, saying it is “a well-considered and timely response” to the challenges of currency management in the country.

Earlier on Wednesday, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele said the apex bank will issue redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 notes, effective December 15, 2022.

Commenting on the development, Bawa said, “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 called on operators in the Nigerian financial services sector, especially deposit money banks and BDC operators to work within the guidelines provided by the CBN to ensure seamless withdrawal of the old currency.

The EFCC boss warned that the anti-graft commission will monitor the process and charged banks to be alive to their reporting obligations and not assist unscrupulous customers in laundering suspected proceeds of crimes through their system.

Bawa said the CBN’s move is in tandem with the objectives of the Money Laundering Prevention Prohibition Act 2022, which criminalises the conduct of cash transactions above a certain threshold.

Section 2 (1) of the Money Laundering Act 2022 states: “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.”

“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.”

He said the Commission will spare no effort to bring to book any financial services operator who runs afoul of extant laws and regulations.