The Central Bank of Nigeria is seeking sweeping powers to freeze bank accounts “linked to criminals in the country via an amendment of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) of 2004.
The CBN’s Director Legal Services, Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, who made the representations at the National Assembly seek for the power to apply to the court for orders to freeze accounts which are deemed to be linked with criminal and other civil infractions.
The CBN is increasingly seeing itself as not just an enforcer of monetary policy but a major stakeholder in curbing the activities of fraudsters looking to exploit the financial banking system.
Thus, the CBN needs not wait for anti-corruption bodies like the EFCC to seek court orders to freeze bank accounts that they suspect of being used for fraudulent activities.
The CBN is also calling for a provision that will allow it to change the administration of dormant accounts in the banking sector.
“The provisions should address such requirements as the criteria for determining dormancy, the processes for managing the funds in dormant accounts and procedure for reclaiming funds by beneficiaries.”
It appears the CBN wants to have a more direct control over how dormant accounts are managed by banks in Nigeria. It is thought that some of the older generation banks keep tens of billions of naira in dormant account deposits that may not be reclaimed in the foreseeable future.
The CBN also wants an amendment to the law to give it options to managing systemic crises and failed banks without seeking funding from taxpayers.