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Fintech firms respond after CBN secures order to freeze their bank accounts

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On Tuesday, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) obtained a court permission to freeze the bank accounts of several fintech businesses in order to investigate their “illegal foreign exchange transactions.”

The companies include Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited OPNS, Chaka Technologies Limited, CTL/Business Expenses, and Trove Technologies Limited.

In response to the CBN move, two of the affected fintech companies have issued statements assuring investors that their monies are safe, secure, and still accessible.

Bamboo in a message to investors said it was aware of the situation and looking into the matter, assuring investors that funds are safe.

“We are aware of the recent reports about us. Our legal and government relations teams are looking into it but we thought it was important to let you know that your money remains safe and will always be accessible,” Bamboo said.

Risevest, also affected by the move, said funds will also not be affected.

“With regard to the latest news about us and our FX dealings, you can be sure that your investments and funds are safely managed, that funding and withdrawals will continue to be processed as normal, and that all our US operations remain intact,” Risevest wrote in a mail to investors.

“We will work with regulators, as we always have to ensure that all issues raised are properly addressed. However, this does not affect our users or their investments, which are managed by regulated third parties in all jurisdictions in which we operate.”

Meanwhile, here is a rundown of what happened in court on Tuesday and the motion filed by the apex bank’s lawyer, Chief Micheal Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN.

Read also: CBN gets court’s order to block accounts of fintech companies

“An Interim Order of this Honorable Court empowering the Plaintiff/ Applicant to direct the Head Offices of ZENITH BANK PLC (Churchgate Street, Victoria Island, Lagos), GUARANTY TRUST BANK PLC (Plot 635, Akin Adesola, Victoria Island, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK (142, Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos.), ACCESS BANK OF NIGERIA (999c, Danmole Street, Off ldejo Street, Off Adetola Odeku Street, Victoria Island, Lagos), VFD MICROFINANCE BANK (Elephant House. 5, Floor, 214 Broad Street, Marina Island, Lagos), to freeze forthwith all the bank accounts of the Defendants/ Respondents for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry conducted by the CBN.”

“Rise Vest Technologies Limited was Incorporated In October 2018 with objects of technological and business consultancy. The shareholders of the company at incorporation were Eke Eleanya Urum and Rise Vast Technologies Limited (USA). The company partners with companies involved in payments and settlements as well as internal and international remittances.

“However, information on the company’s website indicated that it is an asset management company, which provides a platform for customers to invest in foreign instruments using an app called “Risevest”.

“Our review revealed that the company consummated its asset management activities through its account 1017556580 with Zenith Bank Plc, which recorded a turnover of 1.97 billion between January 1, 2019 and April 27, 2021.

” Inflows to the account were mainly from retail investors through two Payment Service Solution Providers (PSSPe): Flutterwave (588.61 million) and Monnify (N967.58 milllon).

“Outflows from the account were to a PSSP – Paystack (500 00 milllon) and cryptocurrency traders Ike BuyCoins (N110.00 millon) and Beltlum Venture (N350.00 million). Inquiries on the transactions confirmed that the transfers to Buycoins were for the purchase of cryptocurrency.

“The above is indicative that Rise Vest Technologies Limited traded in cryptocurrencies in contravention of the CBN circular referenced BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/014/001, dated February 5 2021.”

“Bamboo Systems Technology Limited Bamboo Systems Technology Limited is owned by US-based Bamboo Global LLC (99.99%) and Oluwole Raiph Olugbenga (0.01%).

“The company was incorporated in December 2018 to carry on the business of software design, implementation, development, maintenance and consultancy amongst others. It is related to One Global Med. Technology, BSTL Lambeth and Grag Concepts Limited.

“Further reviews showed that Bamboo Systems Technology Limited operates an online App, “Bamboo”, that provides a medium for investors to buy and sell stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), Index funds and derivatives listed in major exchanges in the U.S.”

Furthermore, Aondoakaa told the judge on Tuesday that the CBN was worried about how monies were going out of the country.

“We need to write the Embassy, we need to go to the Foreign Affairs….the Minister will serve the US to seek assistance so that we can block this linkages,” the lawyer added.

In his ruling, Justice Ahmed said “having listened to senior counsel to the applicant, on the motion Exparte filed in August, it is granted as prayed”

He said that any person who feels aggrieved about the freezing order is entitled to approach the court within the period so as to seek redress.

He then adjourned the matter to February 20 for hearing.

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