CBN gets court order to freeze accounts of six Fintechs

CBN gets court order to freeze accounts of six Fintechs

A federal high court in Abuja has granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze the accounts of fintechs companies for 180 days.

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A federal high court in Abuja has granted the request of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze the accounts of fintechs companies for 180 days.

The accounts include that Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited OPNS, Chaka Technologies Limited, CTL/Business Expenses, and Trove Technologies Limited.

The apex bank said it is investigating illegal foreign exchange transactions by the fintech companies. It also sought the court injunction to freeze their bank accounts for 180 days pending the completion of investigations.

This is despite the fact that Order 26 Rules 5, 10 And 11(1) and (2) Of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, 2019, prescribe a maximum period of 14 days as the duration of an ex parte order.

In the motion ex parte marked FCH/ABJ/CS/822/2021 and filed on August 4, CBN through its counsel, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, it submitted that “the investigation being carried out concerns what has been discovered to be serious infractions by the defendants/respondents in connection with some foreign exchange transactions, and non-documentation by the defendants/respondents in violation of the extant laws and regulations, particularly the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act and the Central Bank of Nigeria foreign exchange manual.”

“That more specifically, there is a grave allegation that the defendants/respondents are engaged in illegal foreign exchange transactions, accessing/procuring of foreign exchange via their banks from the Nigerian foreign exchange market via several bureaux de change, international money transfer operators and have transferred cash deposit of more than S10,000.00 (Ten thousand dollars) to various accounts overseas contrary to provisions of extant laws and regulations and also traded in foreign securities and cryptocurrencies in contravention to CBN Circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/012 and BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/014/001 dated February 5, 2021, and July 01, 2015.

“It is evident that Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, Chaka Technologies Limited and Trove Technologies Limited are complicit in operating without license as asset management companies and utilising FX sourced from the Nigerian FX market for purchasing foreign bonds/shares in contravention of CBN’s directive.

In his ruling, Ahmed Mohammed said, “Having listened to senior counsel to the applicant, on the motion ex parte filed in August, it is granted as prayed.”

He added 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, 2022, for hearing.

In April, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warned the investing public on the proliferation of unregistered online investment and trading platforms, facilitating access to trading in securities listed in foreign markets.

The regulator had advised capital market operators who work in concert with the referenced online platforms to desist.

Ironically, last year Justice A.R Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja granted an ex parte order by CBN to freeze over 20 #EndSARS accounts for 90 days based on allegations of terrorism funding.

Justice A.R Mohammed immediately granted it but said if the owners of the accounts were aggrieved, they should approach his court to challenge the order.

The owners of the accounts asked Justice A.R Mohammed to unfreeze the accounts but he kept on adjourning the matter for weeks until the 90 days had lapsed. It turned out CBN’s terrorism allegations were frivolous but these people got no compensation and CBN and its lawyer, Michael Aondoakaa (ex-AGF) were not sanctioned.

Affected FINTECHS responds
The Fintech companies have responded following the action from CBN, assuring investors that their monies are safe and accessible.

Bamboo in a message to investors said it was aware of the situation and looking into the matter, assuring investors that funds are safe.

Risevest, also affected by the move, said funds will also not be affected.

“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,” Risevest wrote in a mail to investors.

“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.”