By John Ikani
Abdulrasheed Bawa, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says the commission has recovered $20million worth of cryptocurrency from cybercriminals.
Disclosing this in an interview with Channels TV on Tuesday, the EFCC boss said the recovered loot has been saved in the commission’s e-wallet.
According to him, the commission sees cryptocurrency as an “avenue where criminals launder proceeds of crime”.
He further disclosed that within January to June 3, 2021, 1,436 suspected cybercriminals have been arrested across the country.
“From January to June, according to the statistics, the EFCC has arrested 1436 suspected cybercriminals across the federation,” he said.
Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had issued a directive that banks should close accounts of persons or entities involved in cryptocurrency transactions within their systems.
Applauding the Central Bank of Nigeria’s cryptocurrency restrictions, Mr Bawa said it limited internet fraudsters’ ability to convert it to naira.
What Bawa is saying
“As it is today, there is nowhere in the world where cryptocurrency is being regulated. The EFCC is looking at cryptocurrency as an avenue where people are laundering their proceeds of crime,” he said.
“Where people are receiving proceeds of crime and that is our worry. We have seen again and again how cybercriminals are using it as an avenue to get their proceeds of crime.
“Before, it used to be through money transfer agencies like Money Gram and Western Union. Now they have gone E.
“They will defraud somebody and get gift cards, and exchange in dark webs, and use the proceeds to buy crypto. And then of course get it into their e-wallets and they can sell and get their money.”
“As it is now today, we have about $20 million worth of cryptocurrency because we also created our own crypto wallet to recover cryptocurrency. We are now recovering the proceeds of crime.
“We are in support of what the CBN has done because it has reduced the ease for which these criminals can get cryptocurrency and get naira for it.
“I believe we will not be left behind when it comes to ensuring that laws and regulations are put in place to checkmate the excesses of cryptocurrency.”