Beneficiaries to receive money transfer proceeds in naira •CBN revokes licences of 20 BDCs

As part of its efforts to curb money laundering, the Central Bank of Nigeria has asked Deposit Money Banks to start paying proceeds from international money transfer firms such as Western Union and MoneyGram only in naira.

Already, the CBN has revoked the operating licences of 20 Bureau De Change operators, which it said purchased “unusually large amounts of foreign exchange from the DMBs and failed to render returns of the utilisation.”

The CBN, in a circular on its website, said, “The affected BDCs did not render returns on the utilisation of the foreign exchange purchased and also failed to provide documentary evidence that their purchases were utilised for eligible transactions in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Money Laundering Act.

“Consequently, the operating licences of the 20 BDCs have been revoked by the CBN. Also, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has been requested to investigate the matter for the persecution of indicted persons.”

The CBN, in circulars posted on its website on Friday, announced new measures to tackle money laundering, which it said was weakening the naira and risked pushing up inflation.

“Available statistics indicate that Nigeria has become the largest importer of United States dollars,” the regulator said in Friday’s notice explaining that its twice-weekly wholesale foreign exchange auction would be replaced with a retail version requiring dealers to reveal the identity of their buyers, according to a Reuters report.

Corruption in the build-up to the 2015 election is partly responsible for the increase, CBN Governor, Mr. Lamido Sanusi, said at the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday, adding that it was “absolutely wrong” for bureaux de change to buy hundreds of millions of dollars without accountability.

“We have seen evidence of huge demand for dollars by bureaux de change, huge purchases of cash that are not accounted for and that signals money laundering, and we’ve got to deal with it,” Sanusi told Reuters by telephone.

“It is a small class of people that has access to huge rents, and that rent has been dollarised,” he said, adding that the bank had been monitoring portfolio outflows and imports, and found that neither could explain the surge in dollar demand.

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