ICPC says cryptocurrencies help terrorists, fraudsters, kidnappers

The agency says virtual assets and cryptocurrencies are risky for implementation in Nigeria.

ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, says virtual assets are difficult to regulate [Twitter/@ICPC_PE]

Pulse Nigeria

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says the ban on cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria is important to stop criminals from using it to evade the law.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) earlier in February directed Deposit Money Banks and other financial institutions to close accounts of people using their systems for cryptocurrency trading.

Nigerian senators a week later invited the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, to explain the reasons for the ban and Nigeria's future plan for virtual assets.

While making a presentation before the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions on Tuesday, February 6, 2021, ICPC chairman, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said virtual assets and cryptocurrencies are risky for implementation in Nigeria.

He noted that the ongoing integration of National Identification Number with SIM cards would make cryptocurrency an even more vital part of operations for terrorists, kidnappers, bandits, and drug merchants who crave anonymity.

The ICPC boss cited the example of an ongoing investigation on money laundering where the suspect made millions of naira disappear using ICT-aided transfer schemes.

He said, "By their very nature, they provide considerable anonymity that is almost impossible to be accessed by unauthorised persons, including law enforcement authorities."

Owasanoye said cryptocurrencies can also be used for theft, ponzi schemes, evade tax, and for other criminal means.

He said the CBN will be unable to regulate policy around cryptocurrencies because they are issued by private foreign entities.

However, he noted that virtual assets cannot be wished away and that Nigeria's CBN can follow the footsteps of other central banks in considering floating officially-recognised cryptocurrencies.

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