By Odunewu Segun
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has threatened to deal with any illegal International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) in the country when caught, warning Nigerians in the diaspora to desist from remitting funds into the country through the illegal operators or risk losing their money.
The apex bank in a statement signed by its acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okoroafor and issued yesterday said it will block the bank accounts of the illegal operators when caught and hand over the perpetrators to relevant authorities for prosecution.
It noted that its attention had been drawn to the increasing patronage of illegal IMTOs by Nigerians in the Diaspora for the purpose of home remittances. “These unscrupulous operators, who lure unsuspecting customers with ridiculous exchange rate, use Naira accounts opened in local banks ostensibly for legal business to pay out the proceeds to the beneficiaries while channeling the foreign currencies to fund the parallel market.”
According to the statement, the practice has led to non-reporting of such transactions to relevant authorities thereby undermining effective surveillance of the sector as well as leading to discrepancies in statistics on the transactions between countries of origin of remittance and the destination country, Nigeria.
The apex bank urged Nigerians at home and in diaspora to make use of the 35 licensed IMTOs. The statement listed some of the licensed IMTOs to include: Aftab Currency Exchange Limited, AWS Malta Limited, Caperemit Uk Limited, Cashpot Limited, Centrexcard Limited, Colony Capital Limited, CP Express Limited, Daytona Capital Management Limited, DT&T Corporation Limited, Etransact Limited, Fiem Group Llc DBA Ping Express, First Apple Inc., First Transfer Inc., Foren Money Limited, Funtech Global Communications Limited.
Others are GDM Transfer PTY Limited, Homesend S.C.R.L, IDT Payment Services Inc, Moneygram, Nouveau Mobile Limited, Pagatech Limited, Refitok International Limited, Ria Financial, Sanaa Capital Llc (Money4 Diaspora Services Llc), Small World Financial Services Group Limited, TCF Limited, Trans-Fast Remittance Llc, UAE Exchange Centre Llc, Venture Garden Nigeria, Vtnetwork Limited, Wari Limited, Weblink International Limited, Western Union, Wi-Pay Global Llc, Worldremit Limited.
It also warned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to ensure painstaking conduct of ‘Know Your Customers’ (KYB) in order to prevent the use of accounts for illegal transactions and avoid regulatory sanctions.