Months after the forex ban, it would seem the federal government has seen it fit to take further action that would presumably benefit citizens of the country.
The federal high court, Abuja, granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria to freeze accounts of some forex traders in Nigeria.
CBN brought the case against the defendants: Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Bamboo Systems Tech. Ltd OPNS, Chaka Technologies Limited, CTL/Business Expenses and Trove Technologies Limited.
The CBN accused the defendants of being complicit in operating without a license as asset management companies “and utilizing FX sourced from the Nigerian FX market for purchasing foreign bonds/shares in contravention of the CBN circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/012, dated July 01, 2015.”
The counsel to the applicant, Chief Micheal Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN, allegedly told the court that the Naira was weaker to the dollar because of the foreign transactions done through the defendants, which prompted the need to freeze their accounts for 180 days.
Aondoakaa sought an order of the court “to freeze forthwith all the bank accounts of the Defendants/ Respondents for a period of 180 days pending the outcome of investigation and inquiry conducted by the CBN,” the order reads.
A Senior Supervisor of the CBN, Christiana Gyang, stated that a CBN investigation showed that the platforms were violating Nigeria’s trading laws.
Furthermore, Aondoakaa told the judge that the CBN was worried about how monies were going out of the country.
“We need to write the Embassy, we need to go to the Foreign Affairs…the Minister will serve the US to seek assistance so that we can block this linkages,” the lawyer added.
In his ruling, Justice Ahmed said, “having listened to senior counsel to the applicant, on the motion Exparte filed in August, it is granted as prayed.”
He said that any person who feels aggrieved about the freezing order is entitled to approach the court within the period to seek redress.
He then adjourned the matter to February 20 for hearing.
The fintech companies were quick to take action. In mails to their investors, they reassured investors that their money was safe and secure.
Bamboo sent a mail, saying,
“We are aware of the recent reports about us. Our legal and government relations teams are looking into it but we thought it was important to let you know that your money remains safe and will always be accessible.”
Risevest, in their mail, said,
“With regard to the latest news about us and our FX dealings, you can be sure that your investments and funds are safely managed, that funding and withdrawals will continue to be processed as normal, and that all our US operations remain intact.
We will work with regulators, as we always have to ensure that all issues raised are properly addressed. However, this does not affect our users or their investments, which are managed by regulated third parties in all jurisdictions in which we operate.”
The tech companies have said they are willing to work with the regulators to address the concerns of illegitimacy.