Nigeria’s Central Bank denies ordering closure, freezing of ‘terrorist’ related accounts

Central Bank of Nigeria

The CBN had mandated all banks to report on the transaction of terrorist groups.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that it has not ordered the closure or freezing of the bank account of any religious body or institution on accounts of alleged suspicion of links with terrorist groups.

The regulatory body said this on Friday in a communiqué signed by Ugochukwu Okoroafor, its Director, Corporate Communications. The Central bank accused some publications of reporting that it had ordered some accounts to be closed due to terrorism threats.

“Prior to 2006, Nigeria was on the infamous list of the Non-Cooperating Countries and Territories (NCCTs) of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog on financial crimes. Nigeria was removed from this undignified list on account of stringent actions taken by the Nigerian Government,” the Central Bank said.

It, however, added that by 2007, as a result of loopholes in Nigeria’s legal and regulatory system, the country was included in the ‘grey list’ of countries that had not made appreciable progress in their Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime by FATF.

“It was therefore incumbent on Nigerian authorities to ensure that her financial processes and procedures as well as the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act (MLPA) of 2011 and the Prevention of Terrorism (PTA) Act of 2011, were in conformity with FATF recommendations and international best practice” the regulatory body said.

Consequently, all Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions, DNFBPs, operating accounts in all financial institutions in Nigeria were required to update their account information to ensure that their respective businesses and vocations were registered as stipulated by the relevant statutes.

The only requirement to this effect is the presentation of evidence of registration, specifically, certificate of registration showing registration number with the Special Control Unit Against money Laundering, SCUML.

On August 2, 2012, the CBN issued a circular requiring all such account holders classified as DNFBPs to update, within six months, their account information in their respective banks. In February, the deadline was extended for another three months. On June 18, following discussions with various interest groups, the Central Bank announced another extension to December 31, for all such account holders to comply.

“It is, therefore clear that the new deadline has neither come nor is the measure targeted at any institution or person, be it religious, financial or social” the regulatory body said, adding that the circulars are in line with global best practice and consistent with the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We wish to state, however, that upon the expiration of this final deadline, the CBN shall ensure that FATF rules are complied with. We, therefore, urge all affected DNFBPs to comply as soon as possible,” the Central Bank said.

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