Nigeria must fully regulate crypto activities if it wants to curb financial crimes associated with digital assets, a forensic expert has said. The co-founder of A&D Forensics also called on Nigeria to enact laws that would mandate banks to vet service providers before granting them account access.
Curbing Crypto-Related Financial Crimes
According to a blockchain and digital forensic expert, Nigeria needs to fully regulate crypto activities if it wants to curb financial crimes associated with cryptocurrencies. Without a governing framework for crypto-related activities, Nigerian authorities will continue to struggle to prevent criminals from using digital assets for illicit activities, Adedeji Owonibi, co-founder of A&D Forensics, said.
Owonibi’s call for the enactment of laws to regulate cryptocurrencies comes in the wake of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s recent decision to rescind its Feb. 5 directive on cryptocurrencies. For nearly two years, this directive required Nigerian financial institutions to exclude crypto entities from the banking ecosystem.
Despite the forced cessation of many crypto firms’ operations within the country, interest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies among Nigerians did not wane. After the issuance of the CBN directive, Nigerians who utilized centralized exchanges abruptly shifted to alternative platforms. Many of these platforms were unregulated and this inevitably led to a surge in financial crime cases involving the use of crypto.
Training Law Enforcement Agents
Meanwhile, in his remarks delivered at a training session for cryptocurrency compliance specialists, Owonibi also proposed the enactment of laws that would mandate banks to vet service providers before granting them account access.
“There is a need for financial institutions such as banks to make sure that the VASPs [virtual asset service providers] they are opening accounts for are compliant exchanges, and not gateways for people trying to launder money, sell drugs, or finance terrorism across the world,” the A&D Forensics co-founder said.
As per the co-founder’s statement, banks can safeguard their infrastructure from misuse by designating a trained compliance officer. Owonibi further emphasized the importance of educating law enforcement agents. This step, he believes, will “ensure that financial crimes do not continue to thrive in our country.”