The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has asked banks to provide a list of unscrupulous customers ahead of the 2019 general elections.
A statement by the EFCC Spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, quoted Magu as saying this in Lagos on Tuesday during an interactive session with the Association of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria.
The EFCC boss said this would help curb the level of corruption in the country, adding that many banks were already on the verge of collapse due to the activities of unscrupulous individuals.
He further charged banks’ compliance officers to always provide the commission with the necessary information to assist it in carrying out its responsibilities.
Magu said, “We must work together to save this country. Most of the banks are sitting on the water. In fact, some of these banks are almost collapsing.
“I know there are questions you can’t ask, particularly if it involves some individuals, but if you give us information on such people, we will move in. If there are fundamental issues that can affect your banks, you can give us the information, especially as another election season approaches.
“I don’t want to be charging banks alongside suspected criminals because doing so can wreak havoc on the economy. It will even discourage investors from coming to the country.”
Magu also expressed concerns over private banking in Nigeria, which he said could be abused by politically exposed persons.
He, therefore, urged the group to look very critically into the issue, saying, “There must be due diligence, even in this practice of private banking. There must be accountability; there must be transparency in our transactions. You don’t have to wait until anything goes awry before you begin to find a solution to it.”
The EFCC boss also stated that the commission was ready to assist the banks in recovering bad loans.
He, however, urged compliance officers of banks to be more diligent in their responsibilities, as this would help prevent money laundering and other fraudulent practices in the sector.
Magu said, “The commission is ready to partner with you to ensure a healthy economy. We are ready to assist the banks in recovering their debts, but compliance officers must ensure due diligence, especially when giving out loans to customers.
“I know you sometimes need to protect some of your customers. But it is sometimes better that you do without some of these people; otherwise, you will be seen as conspiring with them to steal public funds.”
He also stressed the need for efforts to save the banking industry, saying “every bank is capable of going distressed, no matter its size. That is why we are battling to see that you stay afloat.”
In his response, the Chairman, ACCOBIN, Opeyemi Adojutelegan, lauded the commission for its intervention to save the banking sector.
He further assured Magu of the association’s readiness to continue to work with the commission, saying, “Ours is to contribute our quota to the development of the country.”