Forex: 200 BDC operators arrested, EFCC alleges fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has arrested over 200 suspects in connection with foreign exchange scams and manipulation of the financial markets.

Sources privy to the development but were not authorised to speak to The PUNCH on Wednesday that over 200 suspected Bureau De Change operators were in EFCC custody across the country.

One of the sources revealed, “Over 200 suspects have been arrested by the EFCC for forex scam and currency speculation. Not all the arrested suspects are in Abuja or at our headquarters because they were arrested in various states across the country.”

Another source noted, “I can confirm that we have arrested over 200 people for foreign exchange scam and manipulation of the financial markets; they are all being interrogated by our investigators to determine the degrees of their involvements. Most of them were arrested in Abuja, Lagos, Rivers, and Kano States.”

Also, a third source stated, “The clampdown on the forex scammers would yield positive results. Many of them have been arrested, and they will face the consequences of their actions.”

The PUNCH reported last week that the EFCC expanded its clampdown exercise on BDC operators, arresting traders in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt.

The raid of the BDC operators is part of the Federal Government’s efforts to tame the free fall of the local currency.

The government blamed the actions of speculators in the forex market and digital marketing sphere for the significant depreciation of the naira.

On Friday, May 17, operatives of the Uyo Zonal command of the EFCC arrested five suspected forex speculators at the Ama-Hausa mosque, along Hospital Road, Aba in Abia State.

The arrested suspects are: Hassan Umaru; Haruna Umar, Badamasi Abdullahi, Auwal Muhammed and Kasimu Muhammed.

The spokesperson for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, in a statement, revealed that the suspects had different currencies in varied sums at the point of arrest.

Oyewale said, “The recovered currencies are: 23,000 Won (Korean currency), 52 (Yuan Chinese currency),  $6, 500 Nippon Ginko, 40 notes of Dalawampung Piso (Philippines currency), 20 Gambian Dalasis, 20 Swaziland currency and N382,000.

“Other recovered items from them are seven mobile phones, one power bank, one air pod, and one ATM card.

“They were arrested by operatives of the command, following weeks of surveillance and credible intelligence. The suspects will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.”

In another development, Oyewale revealed that the Enugu Zonal Command of the EFCC arraigned Daniel Chukwuka Koussou, a forex broker, before Justice C. O. Ajah of the State High Court sitting in Independence Layout, Enugu State.

He was arraigned on a one-count charge bordering on criminal conversion and stealing of N112.8m.

The lone count charge reads: “That you, Daniel Chuwuka Koussou sometime in July 2022, in Enugu, Enugu State, within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did commit a felony to wit: stealing by fraudulently converting to your use the sum of N112, 800, 800.00 (one hundred and twelve million, eight hundred thousand, eight hundred naira), property of Chinedu Igbokwe and thereby committed an offence.”

The offence is contrary to Section 342 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap 30 of the Laws of Enugu State and punishable under Section 353 (1) of the same Law.

The defendant pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to him and was thereafter remanded at the Enugu State Correctional facility pending the fulfilment of the bail conditions.

Oyewale disclosed, “Koussou was arrested following claims of a petitioner, who alleged that he sent $276,000 to the defendant, a supposed agent for Providus Bank, to convert into naira and return same.

“According to the petitioner, on July 6, 2022, Providus Bank paid Koussou the full money in naira but the defendant sent part-payment of N21,759,771 to him (the petitioner) and diverted the rest for his personal use.  All efforts made to get him to pay up proved abortive.”

Last two weeks, an unspecified number of BDC operators were arrested in Abuja for allegedly aiding currency speculators.

Currency operators, who spoke to our correspondent, confirmed that the sting operation occurred at various times during the day in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt.

Meanwhile, the naira recorded marginal appreciation at the official market and parallel market after the close of trading activities on Wednesday.

The naira exchanged at 1,462/$ compared to 1,465/$ it traded on Tuesday at the official market.

The daily foreign exchange market turnover decreased by 54 per cent or $144.7m to $123.45m from $268.17m recorded on Tuesday.

The dollar was sold for 1,470/$, gaining N10 at the parallel market on Wednesday.

A trader at the Wuse Zone 4 Market, Malam Yahu Ibrahim, said, trading activities had been low this week due to the apex bank’s monetary policy committee meeting.

He explained, “The market this week has not been very fast. Maybe it is because of that meeting the CBN did. We traded at N1,470 today but we are buying between N1,450 and N1,455.

“There is still demand but people are just waiting to observe and see what will happen next. Maybe from next week, we will start seeing changes.”

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