The Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, SAN, on Tuesday said virtual assets and cryptocurrencies are risky for implementation in Nigeria.
Prof. Owasanoye made this known in his presentation to the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions during its hearing on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s decision to stop financial institutions from transacting in cryptocurrencies and matters arising therefrom.
He said, “Virtual and cryptocurrencies pose serious legal and law enforcement risks for Nigeria. The current National Identification Number registration and linking with SIM cards is a pointer to the fact that insurgents, terrorists, kidnappers, bandits, and drug merchants have used the anonymity of unregistered SIM cards to commit their crimes with relative ease.
“Cryptocurrencies guarantee similar anonymity and can easily be used as leverage for terrorist financing and other crimes. With the NIN registration, cryptocurrencies may become an alternative payment platform for kidnappers and this would be impossible for law enforcement to agencies to trace.”
The ICPC boss cited a case study of a current investigation by the Commission on money laundering involving several hundreds of millions of naira.
According to him, “The main suspect used technology in placing the money in the banking sector. A sizable amount was traced to several bank accounts but before investigators recovered some of the money, a large proportion had been made to disappear using serpentine ICT-aided transfer schemes that have so far eluded investigators.