Court grants CBN right to freeze 193 accounts for forex fraud

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has secured the orders of the Federal High Court, Abuja to freeze 193 corporate and individual bank accounts, pending the outcome of investigations into allegations of foreign exchange (FX) infractions against holders of the accounts.

The affected accounts in the three suits posted on the CBN website, belong to Bluebeam Capital Limited, whose 59 separate accounts were listed; 33 separate bank accounts in different banks belonging to Sethwealth Ventures; 17 bank accounts belonging to Seasons Bureau De Change; Lat-Ade Logistics (four bank accounts); Sani Polo Concept Enterprises (five bank accounts); Saneo Global Resources (eight bank accounts); Romvic Ventures Limited (seven bank accounts); and Enychristo Enterprises (three bank accounts).

Some of the individual bank accounts affected were listed as Nuhu Abubakar (three bank accounts); Adenmosun Lateef Jimoh (five bank accounts); Lateef Adenmosun (six bank accounts); Sani Abdullahi (three bank accounts); Ezeh Onyebuchi C (three bank accounts); Okpalaugo Ifeanyi Paul; Chinweuba Okoye Sunday; among others.

In all the cases, the Judge ruled that the orders were granted, “in the interim and shall last for only 45 days pending the conclusion of an investigation by the CBN.”

It added: “The applicant (CBN) shall publish this order in its website within three days from today. Any person or persons that is aggrieved by this order shall approach this court to seek to set aside, discharge or have the order reviewed without waiting for the expiration of 45 days given in the law, but upon good reasons shown.

“The order is renewable on expiration upon good reasons shown. This suit is adjourned to May 17, 2021, for mention.”

The CBN had announced on Wednesday that it got an interim order from the Federal High Court, to freeze 11 bank accounts of five companies and an individual for 45 days to enable it to conduct investigations into suspicious activities.

The order follows an exparte motion, dated March 12 and filed on March 16, seeking the mandatory order of the court to direct First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Limited, to freeze all transactions on the listed accounts and all other bank accounts of the defendants for 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

According to the statement from the CBN, the listed names of the defendants/respondents include Albert Austin Ugochukwu with 2 bank accounts, Belfour Energy & Allied Services, Belfour Oil and Gas Limited with 3 bank accounts, Circle Flow Integrated Services, Kacynaus Reality Nigeria Limited with 3 bank accounts and Tasmara Integrated Services.

The bank accounts owned by a certain Albert Austin Ugochukwu and five other business concerns were alleged to be involved in operating as illegal foreign exchange operators; an act that contravenes the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring & Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995 and Section 58(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 1991 (as amended).

However, it was gathered that the 11 bank accounts affected by the court order were to be investigated for suspicious transactions allegedly linked to illegal foreign exchange operators in excess of $160 million.

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