Arrest of bureau de change operators done to sanitise Nigeria’s FX market – EFCC

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said the recent arrest of some bureau de change operators across the country was done to sanitise Nigeria’s foreign exchange market.

The Commission’s Director of Operations, Abdulkarim Chukkol, stated this on Monday, November 14, 2022, while fielding questions at a broadcast programme organised by the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Chukkol, who represented the EFCC Executive Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, spoke on the topic ‘Sanitizing Ungoverned Operators in the Forex Sector.’


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According to him, EFCC’s arrest of BDC operators and currency speculators in the parallel market was not indiscriminate but a product of intelligence.

He said, “At the EFCC, we work with intelligence and with other stakeholders; and when we talk of illegal forex operators you cannot just invite people on the street. Even though sometimes you could, generally you do not have a choice but to make arrest.”

He stressed that the Commission considered foreign exchange malpractice as an economic crime against the Nigerian state, adding that the Commission as far back as 2016 established a full-fledged section known as Foreign Exchange Malpractices Section.

Chukkol noted that the section had for over 10 years maintained visible presence at all airports in the country to checkmate incidences of bulk cash movement outside Nigeria, which he described as “another aspect of this menace.”

He said that through the Commission’s presence at the major gateway into the country, many arrests of cash smugglers were made and humungous sums in foreign currencies recovered.




     

     

    “Some were arrested with excess of $6 million, others with $2 million, and we know that these huge sums were not meant to be used in buying goods, but were stolen monies being laundered out of the country,” he said

    He added that EFCC not only recovered some of these monies, but secured their forfeiture to the federal government, while the culprits were prosecuted.

    He emphasized the need for active inter-agency and stakeholders’ collaboration, pointing out that many of the over 6,000 registered BDCs do not belong to the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria and, are, therefore out of the orbit of regulators.

    “The CBN guidelines are clear regarding returns by BDCs, but how many of them do this?” he asked.

     

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    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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