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CBN seeks powers to freeze criminals’ accounts

16th July 20200SHARES

Uche Usim, Abuja 

In a strategic move to help tackle insecurity and other crimes in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is seeking powers via legislative mechanisms to immediately freeze accounts of identified criminals and their collaborators. 

The apex bank also wants the Senate to enact a law creating a Credit Tribunal to frontally tackle the rising cases of Non-Perfoming Loans (NPLs), (over N1.05 trillion) currently hurting the banks and by extension, the nation’s economy. The apex bank made the demand on Wednesday in Abuja at a public hearing organised by the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on its Bill for an Act to repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2004 and re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020. The Bill sponsored by Senators Uba Sani and Betty Apiafi has passed the first and second reading.

Speaking at the event, the representative of the CBN Governor and Director, Legal Services, Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, urged the upper legislative chamber to reinstate the powers of the CBN Governor “to apply to the court for orders to freeze accounts which are deemed to be linked with criminal and other civil infractions.”

He lamented that such power was inadvertently omitted in the Bill in the current Act. On NPLs, Salam-Alada said that the primary objective is to create an efficient regime for the recovery of eligible loans of banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFls) and enforcement of rights over collateral securities.

“Several new types of licensed institutions have entered the Nigerian financial Services sector since the enactment of the 1991 Act. These include the non-interest banks, credit bureaux, payment system service providers, among others. 

“There is a compelling need to introduce new provisions in the Bill to address the unique peculiarities of these institutions. We noted that the powers of the CBN to intervene in the process of managing a failing bank and reinstatement of a bank in a grave situation and bring it back to sound financial health was omitted in the Bill. 

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