Bureau De Change operators in the country have been charged to carry out their businesses within the ambit of the law and in line with international best practices or risk prosecution and loss of their operating licenses.
The Executive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, gave the charge on Monday, while delivering a keynote address at a one-day sensitization workshop organized for Bureau De Change Operators by the Commission through the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) at the EFCC Academy, Karu,Abuja.
Lamorde expressed displeasure with the role of the operators in the physical movement of cash across the nation’s borders, adding that about $25.4 billion was moved out of the country through cross border physical movement of cash and financial instruments between 2009 and 2013.
“While this figure may not necessarily be indicative of the proceed of crime, it does however show the Anti- Money Laundering (AML) and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) vulnerabilities associated with cash movements.” Lamorde stressed.
The EFCC boss outlined some of the objectives of the workshop to include educating the BDC on the AML/CFT architecture, the reporting obligations required from them under the law, the sanctions regime applicable and the adverse macro- economic consequences of a lax AML/CFT structure.
He enjoined the leadership of the BDCs to identify and weed out unprofessional operators amongst them who render services without the knowledge of the relevant laws.
He warned that while the action of the CBN in withdrawing operating licenses of 236 operators across Nigeria was administrative in nature, the involvement of EFCC in the investigation of financial crimes involved will lead to the prosecution of the BDC and their accomplices.
Director, Trade and Exchange Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Batari Musa represented by A.S Jubril, examined the evolution of the BDC operation in Nigeria and stressed that the CBN was empowered to appoint banks and any other non-banking corporate organization as authorized buyer of foreign exchange.
Batari, who gave a detailed operating guidelines of the apex bank’s role in the workings of the BDC stated that the extant operating laws were adequate for anyone wishing to do genuine business and that appropriate sanctions must be meted out to erring BDC if compliance is to be enforced.
The President of the Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria, Aminu Gwadabe commended EFCC for organising the workshop, stressing that what was needed was adequate synergy between the operators and the regulators, pledging that his organisation would do everything possible to ensure that its members comply with the existing laws guiding their operations.