The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, has asked the National Assembly to come up with legislation that would regulate cryptocurrency trading to stop operators from using it to perpetrate heinous crimes.
The anti-graft agency lamented that kidnappers, bandits now use the medium to carry out high profile crimes like money laundering and payment of ransom for kidnappers
The Chairman of ICPC, Prof.Bolaji Owasanoye, stated this during the opening ceremony of a two-day capacity building retreat with the National Assembly and ICPC Board/committee directors themed, “Corruption, IFFS and financing for national development,” which was held on Tuesday at Watbridge hotels and suites Uyo, Akwa Ibom.
He said the gaps in the law and absence of regulatory framework have emboldened the perpetrators of these crimes to swindle unsuspecting members of the public as well as engage in illicit financial flow.
“There is a need for regulatory intervention in cryptocurrency trading. Some people have used digital currency and assets to commit huge corruption, money laundry and terrorism financing.
“Corruption in digital assets are not easily traceable for instance if somebody steals billions of Naira and converts it quickly into cryptocurrency, it’s almost impossible to trace it.
“This is not the kind of account you can easily freeze. Before you freeze an account you have to know the account name, the BVN etc. But in cryptocurrency, you only have the wallet but the identity of the person is not known to anyone. Those who helped to convert the currency do not have registered organisations, these are the things that facilitate money laundry and terrorism.
“They also use it to finance kidnapping, imagine if a kidnapper takes a ransom and converts it into digital currency, it’s always difficult to trace. Cryptocurrencies have become an alternative payment platform for kidnappers and this would be impossible for law enforcement agencies to trace.
“Many people have lost money through cryptocurrency trading unlike in a bank depository scheme where your money is insured in case of any eventuality. But if you lose money in cryptocurrency what insurance do you have? Who would you hold responsible? Who is guaranteeing digital currency, you don’t even know the people who created them, they are anonymous.”
Owasanoye explained that the retreat was organised by the commission to enable it to interface with the lawmakers and intimate them on some of the challenges facing the commission as well as update them on its achievements.
Also speaking, Chairman, House Committee on Anti-corruption, Hon Garba Shehu said the House has made the fight against corruption one of its critical components adding that the House would partner with ICPC to advance the fight against corruption.
“We are ready to support and assist the Commission in its onerous task of fighting graft and we are encouraging them to beam their searchlight on private individuals and companies just as they did in the public sector.” He said