The CBN Deputy Governor in charge of Financial System Surveillance (FSS), Mr. Okechukwu Joseph Nnanna, gave the indication yesterday while speaking with reporters in Abuja on the sidelines of a workshop organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA).
Mr. Nnanna also said it would no longer be business as usual.
He said: “Any bank which we discover has been used, or manipulated by criminals who launder money, corrupt politicians who launder money, that bank and directors would be held accountable.
“Not only paying fines, we can also ask them to be blacklisted and will never work in the financial system any more. That is a very severe punishment.
“People who finance terrorists come in different guises; they may be genuine businessmen who after a while may turn to be criminals but what is important is for the banks to make sure that the customer who comes to deposit money and withdraw money, they must know who he is. Not only knowing who he is, they must know his or her business”.
In response to what measures the CBN is taking to check money laundering, the Deputy Governor said the apex bank has put in place many control mechanisms including the Know Your Customers (KYC) policy.
“At the CBN, we are doing a great deal. The bank has in fact put in place a regime of controls particularly for commercial banks. Know Your Customers (KYC) is a very serious affair with us.
“You don’t go to the bank and open an account and go and lodge in N5 million, N10 million without you being reported to the NFIU and to the EFCC. You will be reported to explain the source of that money.
“We are not saying that Nigerians are all criminals. If you are a genuine businessman and you lodge in N1 billion there is nothing wrong with that but if you have N5000 and all of a sudden, you brought N10 million, we would like to know.
“The CBN in collaboration with the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) would like to know the source of that money and that we are doing very religiously”, Nnanna said.
On exactly how much of looted funds had been recovered and deposited in CBN in reference to a statement credited to President Muhammadu Buhari last week in Tehran, the Iranian capital that some former officials of the past administration are beginning to return what they stole, Mr. Nnanna was not forthcoming.
He said: “The president said so, and I am not qualified to contradict him. I wasn’t told that amount of money. If I tell you the figure, I would be lying. The Central Bank of Nigeria is the banker to the government so if the government recovers such money, where will it go? It will go to the CBN.
“You are the one saying it is there but I am not disputing that. What I am saying is that the Central Bank of Nigeria is the banker to the government. We keep dropping money, all money”.