From Fred Itua, Abuja
Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, has said the #EndSARS movement was largely financed by crypto-currency, an indication that it could be used to fund insurgency.
This is even as the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) said it has averted a $3 million fraud linked to 20 bank accounts recently.
Addressing senators at an interactive meeting with Senate Joint Committee on Banking, ICT, cybercrime and capital market on the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ban crypto-currency in Nigeria, the ICPC boss backed CBN’s position, stressing that crypto-currency lends itself to money laundering and terrorism financing.
He disclosed that the anti-graft agency currently has a number of cases linked to crypto-currency, but is unable to track the suspects.
In kicking against crypto-currency, he reminded the Senate how in 2018, a number of globally-rated financial institutions had their financial statements hacked with the perpetrators asking to be paid in crypto-currencies.
The ICPC chairman said while the CBN, as a regulator, has the responsibility to ensure sound financial stability, it will be difficult to achieve in the case of crypto-currencies where the role players are unknown.
To drive home his point, he left the lawmakers with a warning to urgently take a decisive action against crypto-currencies sharing with them the experience of the Indian Supreme Court and how it ruled and admitted that it “does not know what it is.”
NFIU Director/CEO, Tukur Moddido, kicked strongly against crypto-currencies pointing out that it failed the critical tests of vulnerability and attendant risks.
Earlier, CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, maintained its previous stance that crypto-currency is inimical to the Nigerian economy and could further weaken an already weak naira.
According to Emefiele, crypto-currency is ‘money created out of thin air’, with the players untraceable and unknown.
“We know enough at this stage to decide that the opaque nature significantly threatens our transaction and as you know, the CBN has the primary responsibility to protect the investment of every player in the space,” Emefiele said.
He said crypto-currency is used to described the activities of players in the dark world where the transactions are opaque.
Emefiele said crypto-currency is used to facilitate scam and money laundering; adding that Nigeria has become the second in the use of crypto currencies used in financing terrorism in the world.
“Our business is not a popularity contest but to protect uninformed players. The decision we have taken is in the best interest of every Nigerian who has nothing to hide,” he said.
Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, took a more liberal stance toward the use of crypto-currencies when he said it should and can be regulated.
Without dismissing the fears expressed by the CBN, NFIU and ICPC, the SEC boss said his agency can develop an appropriate regulatory framework to protect investments in crypto currencies and ensure the operators are duly registered.