Look Out For New Wave Of COVID-Related Financials Crimes, CBN Tasks Nigerian Banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Monday, drew the attention of financial institutions operating in the country to tell-tale signs of new and emerging suspicious transactions and financial crimes globally in the aftermath of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In a circular by J.M. Gana, on behalf of the financial Policy and Regulation Department, the apex bank drew attention to an advisory by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), based on comprehensive analysis of reports that identify increasing financial crimes such as cybercrimes and frauds. Others, it continued, include counterfeiting, substandard goods, diversion of public funds and misuse of non-governmental organisations.

The CBN, in the circular referenced FPR/DIR/GEN/CIR/07/064, dated October 16, 2020, urged banks to look out for red flags such as sudden receipt of multiple payments from unrelated third parties by electronic commerce merchants and individuals with little, or no history or internet presence; as well as individual customer(s) who suddenly engage in supply or purchase of medical supplies and payments for goods and services associated with known brands.

According to the advisory, banks are also to look out for unusual transaction volume and frequent cash withdrawals and deposits; immediate disbursement of deposited funds to multiple accounts, accounts whose signatory is a public/civil servant; and funds transferred from government account to personal account.

The banks are also to call the attention of designated officials to non-profit organizations that suddenly receives donations in favour of COVID-19 patients or victims; customers’ account with little or no activity that suddenly receive funds from one or more unrelated third parties only for such funds to be transferred to one or more unrelated third parties.

They are also to flag “NGOs who under the guise of paying COVID-19 victims could actually be paying member of a criminal gang or facilitating terrorist financing,”