Mr Bawa Usman, Zonal Head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in Sokoto, has said that it is not compulsory for Nigerians to have bank accounts.
Usman, whose zone covers Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States, stated this on Tuesday in Sokoto at a roundtable with Compliance Officers of various commercial banks.
He said that the meeting was convened to strengthen relationship and collaborations between the EFCC and commercial banks as a way to sanitise the system against frauds.
Usman expressed disappointment with the idea of opening bank accounts with mere phone numbers, arguing that nearly 40 per cent of Americans do not have accounts.
“Nearly 40 per cent of Americans do not have accounts. So, it is not very compulsory for everybody in Nigeria to have a bank account,” he said.
The Zonal Head said that the commission often encounter delay in getting responses to investigation letters forwarded to banks, adding that insider connections facilitate most financial frauds in the banking industry.
“Such delays jeopardise our investigation. Financial institutions must collaborate with us toward curtailing money laundering, illegal financing and other illicit flows of money.
”The meeting is a response to the directive of the EFCC leadership. It is one of numerous strategies toward fighting all manners of corruption.
”The commission strives to ensure that fraudsters do not get away with proceeds of crimes undetected. To achieve this, we are appealing to all banks to facilitate better working relationship with the anti-graft agency.”
He enjoined bankers to improve on ways of tracking illicit finances and transactions, stressing that Point of Service Operators (POS) or money agents needed to be well informed on financial regulations.
Usman further urged banks to put more effort toward ensuring that eligible bank customers obtained Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering (SCUML) numbers, and stressed the need to review their data registers to ensure compliance.
He called for complete investigation of cases rather than stopping half way, noting that complete checks usually offer opportunity to know how frauds happened and the best way to avoid recurrences.
The officer advised banks to strictly monitor activities and understand that regulations from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) do not supersede the money laundering act enshrined in the Nigerian constitution.
Responding, a participant, Mr Jimoh Jamiu, from Fidelity Bank, said that the banks were trying their best toward combating money laundering.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that discussions centred around bank compliance techniques with the EFCC officials responding to various questions.
KanyiDaily had reported how two men who allegedly impersonated EFCC officials were recently caught while trying to extort money from unsuspecting residents.