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CBN directs banks to stamp out COVID-19 financial crimes



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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Monday charged banks and financial institutions to upgrade their alert procedures in their anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism monitoring framework in a bid to address the emerging trends stemming from COVID-19 related financial crimes.

In a memo titled ‘Administrative letters to all banks and other financial institutions’ and signed by J. M. Gana, CBN’s director of financial policy and regulation, the apex bank stated that disruptions to business activities and financial transactions occasioned by the coronavirus outbreak had sparked a rise global financial crimes.

It highlighted investing in sturdy data mining and artificial intelligence software for transaction surveillance purpose as well as reporting suspicious transactions as veritable ways of resolving new and emerging money laundering terrorism financing risks.

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According to the regulator, an advisory issued by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit identified a spike in financial crimes like frauds, cybercrimes, diversion of public funds, counterfeiting and substandard goods and abuse of non-governmental organisations funds.

The advisory also observed vulnerabilities and red flags like e-commerce merchants with little or no antecedent of internet presence abruptly receiving several payments from unrelated parties.

Other examples include customers suddenly getting involved in delivery or buying of medical supplies and payment of goods and services connected with known brands whereas the beneficiary is an individual and not a corporate entity.

The CBN identified red flags for diversion of public funds as unusual volume of transactions, instant disbursement of deposited funds to multiple accounts, huge and frequent cash withdrawals and deposits among others.

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