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Terrorism Financing: CBN Reportedly Slams N900m Fine On 180 Bureaux De Change Operators

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Coming weeks after the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF Abubakar Malami, said that about 400 financers of terrorism will be tried in the court of law, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reportedly fined 180 bureau-de-change operators (BDC) N900m.

According to a report by Daily Trust, the BDC operators who were arrested in March by security operatives will pay the penalty fees before returning to their businesses.

Similarly, families of those affected have continued to raise alarms that after the BDC operators were arrested, they have neither seen nor heard from them.

According to the publication, government bodies handling the case like the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Department of States Services (DSS), with financial intelligence support from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unity (NFIU), have begun contacting family members to nominate lawyers for those arrested.

According to those familiar with the development, hundreds of suspicious bank accounts, with funds totaling about N300m have all been frozen by the CBN.

In a report published in April, the Street Journal reported that over 400 BDC operators were picked up from different locations in Kano, Borno, Abuja, Lagos, Sokoto, Adamawa, Kaduna, and Zamfara states.

Speaking on the N900m fine by the CBN, the President of the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Aminu Gwadabe, said each of the 180 BDC operators was made to pay N5 million penalty to CBN, amounting to N900m.

Gwadabe said:

“After engaging with the CBN and appealing to them, we were able to clear about 180 of our members who were asked to pay N5 million each as penalties. They have complied and are now returned to their legitimate business.”

He, however, said the incidents are largely due to the carelessness of its members who engage in a transaction with someone they don’t know.

“It is a KYC (Know Your Customer) issue, it is not that they are directly involved in the illicit use of foreign Exchange. Painfully, this is happening at a time that we are contending with sweeping generalization and criminalization of the activities of our members,” he said.

As of the time of filing this report, the CBN is yet to issue a statement to confirm or refute this development. This newspaper understands that this may be due to the sensitivity of the matter.

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