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Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit Flags Over N150 Trillion in Suspicious Transactions in Q1 2022

Suspicious transactions jumped 23% in the first quarter of 2022 to over N150 trillion

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First Bank

The Suspicious Transaction Report unit of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) has flagged over N150 trillion in suspicious transactions in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022.

In the Suspicious Transaction Report/Suspicious Activity Report released on Sunday, the financial intelligence watchdog disclosed that the amount represented a 23% increase when compared to the N108.5 trillion flagged in Q1, 2021, Investors King reports.

The report noted that a substantial amount of the flagged transactions were traced to political spending ahead of the 2023 general elections.

According to the report, the transactions were reported by banks, insurance firms, microfinance banks, assets management companies, brokers, and other financial institutions. 

This is in line with the Money Laundering Prohibition Act of 2011 which mandated banks and all other financial institutions to report suspicious transactions to anti-graft agencies. 

Commercial banks accounted for a significant number of suspicious transactions, followed by merchant banks, asset management companies, and then microfinance banks. 

Meanwhile, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has intensified efforts at tracking campaign spending by political parties and politicians ahead of the 2023 polls. 

Multiple sources claimed that the anti-graft agency has deployed its operatives to track candidates’ campaign spending and monitor their bank accounts as part of actions to combat money laundering which is often prevalent during election periods.

In May 2022, operatives of the EFCC stormed the venue of the PDP convention to apprehend anyone engaging in suspicious currency transactions. 

Similarly, in June, the anti-graft agency visited the APC convention venue for the same purpose. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) however reported that no arrest was made at both convention grounds despite several reports of foreign currencies exchanging hands at both events.

Investors King understands that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has fixed the 2023 general election to February 25 and 11th March 2023 for both the Federal and States elections respectively.  

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Nigeria’s External Debt Rose From $18.3bn in 2010 to $103bn in 2022; Says World Bank

Nigeria spent $9.6 billion on debt servicing in 12 years

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The World Bank stated yesterday that Nigeria’s external debt increased from $18.3 billion in 2010 to $103 billion in 2022. The bank added that the country spent $9.6 billion on debt servicing in 12 years. 

According to the “International Debt Report” released by the bank, Nigeria’s foreign debts rose astronomically by 305 per cent during the 12 years.

The report added that external debt stood at $76.21 billion in 2021 but rose quickly to $103 billion by the first half of 2022 (H2 2022).

Furthermore, cumulative annual interest payments on external debts rose sharply by 2,819 per cent to $1.73 billion in 2021 from $59.3 million in 2010.  

Investors King understands that the implementation of Nigeria’s budget heavily relies on external borrowings.  

An example is the construction of railway tracks which are heavily funded by the Chinese loan while the country’s 2023 budget proposal also has a deficit of about N10 billion which will be significantly sourced from international creditors.

Experts have warned that Nigeria’s rising debt could hamper the nation’s overall development, especially if the debts are not tied to projects with economic value.

Meanwhile, the report added further that principal repayment on the external debt gulped $30.66 billion during the 12 years period with annual principal repayment rising by 469 percent to $6.77 million in 2021 from $1.189 million in 2010. 

In the executive summary, the report noted that Nigeria and other developing countries are at risk of serious debt-related issues. The report cautioned that rising interest rates coupled with the recent sluggish economic movement may force a number of developing countries into a debt crisis. 

Speaking on the report, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri stated that Nigeria’s economy does not reflect the huge level of debt stock, adding that multilateral institution is worried that the cost of servicing debt could exceed the nation’s revenue.  

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Cashless Policy: CBN Caps Withdrawals at N20,000 a Day, N100,000 a Week

Nigerians can no longer withdraw more than N20,000 a day

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ATM at lagos

In an effort to reduce cash transactions, frustrate activities of Kidnappers and other criminals, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday directed all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) and other financial Institutions (OFIs) to reduce their over the counter withdrawal to N100,000 per week for individual, while withdrawals by corporate organisations were capped at N500,000 per week.

According to the apex bank, withdrawals above these limits would attract 5% processing fees for individuals and 10% for corporate organisations.

For Automated Teller Machines (ATM), cash withdrawal was also capped at N100,000 per week with a maximum cash withdrawal of N20,000 per day. ATM operators are thereby advised to load only N200 denominations and below into their machines.

Similarly, Point of Sale (PoS) cash withdrawal was set at N20,000 a day.

However, in certain compelling circumstances, the central bank allows individuals and corporate organisations with legitimate reasons to withdraw cash of up to N15 million and N110 million, respectively.

Such transactions, however, will attract appropriate processing fees as stated above, in addition to enhanced due diligence and further information requirements as follow:

a. Valid means of identification of the payee (National ID, International Passport, Driver’s License).

b. Bank Verification Number (BVN) of the payee.

c. Notarized customer declaration of the purpose for the cash withdrawal.

d. Senior management approval for the withdrawal by the Managing Director of the drawee, where applicable.

e. Approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the bark authorising the withdrawal.

The apex bank advised financial institutions to start encouraging customers to embrace alternative channels for their financial transactions.

“Customers should be encouraged to use alternative channels (internet banking, mobile banking apps, USSD, cards/POS. eNaira, etc.) to conduct their banking transactions.

“Finally, please note that aiding and abetting the circumvention of this policy will attract severe sanctions.”

The new directive would take effect on January 9, 2023, Investors King reports.

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JUST IN: CBN Limits POS Withdrawal to N20,000 Daily

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The Central Bank Of Nigeria has imposed fresh cash withdrawal limits across all financial channels. The withdrawal which takes effect from January 9, 2023, will affect both individuals and organisations.

According to the new memo issued to commercial banks late on Tuesday, cash withdrawal in banks is set to N100,000 while organisations are limited to N500,000 per week. Similarly, cash withdrawal from POS is set to N20,000 per day. 

“Only denominations of N200 and below shall be loaded into the ATMs. The maximum cash withdrawal via the point of sale terminal shall be N20,000 daily,” the memo partly read. 

The memo added that any transactions above the sat limit will attract charges. As contained in the memo, cash withdrawals above N100,000 and N500,000 will henceforth attract 5 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively. 

Investors King learnt that the new development is part of the overall measures to curtail the humongous circulation of naira. An important reason why the apex bank redesigned a portion of the naira notes. 

It will be recalled that while announcing the redesigned notes, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele noted that the redesigned policy will help to address a number of prevailing issues which include currency circulation, counterfeiting and terrorism. 

In addition, the apex bank noted that Automated Teller Machines, (ATM) will henceforth dispense N200 and other lower denominations. 

The memo which was circulated to commercial banks and signed by the Director of Banking Supervision, Haruna .B. Mustafa included that withdrawal from the Automated Teller Machines for individuals is set to N100,000 while organisations can access N500,000 per week.

Following the release of this new policy, a number of Nigerians have showcased mixed feelings regarding the impacts it will have on the way people transact and the overall business environment. 

While some people welcome the new policy, claiming it will help tackle the excessive circulation of the naira among other issues, some hold the opinion that the new policy will make business transactions a bit difficult for both small and big businesses. 

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