A Federal High Court in Abuja on today, August 18 granted a request by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to freeze more than 86 bank accounts of companies allegedly involved in illegal foreign exchange trading (Forex trading) and other alleged fraudulent financial activities for the next 180 days.

Justice AHMED MOHAMMED, who is sitting as a vacation judge, granted the interim order after listening to the motion exparte by a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, MICHAEL AONDOAKAA (SAN) filed on behalf of the apex bank.

Brave Views reports that some of the affected companies include Rise Vest Technologies Limited, Bamboo Systems Technology Limited, CTL/Business Expenses, Trove Technologies Limited, Chayomi Multi Services Limited, Ningbo Excel Enterprises Limited and Dagang Enterprises.

The court order empowers the CBN to direct Heads of Zenith Bank, Guarantee Trust Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Access Bank and VFD Microfinance Bank to freeze forthwith all transactions on the 86 accounts on the list annexed to the CBN’s application and all other bank accounts of the defendants/respondents for a period of 180 days for the first set of defendants and 90 days for the second set, pending the outcome of the investigation and inquiry currently being conducted by the CBN.

AONDOAKAA had informed the court that some of the firms were owned by individuals and organisations based in the United States (U.S.).

During his submissions, AONDOAKAA said that the motion exparte was premised on the grounds that the firms were using the foreign exchange sourced from the Nigerian market to purchase foreign bonds/shares in contravention of CBN’s directive issued in July 2015.

The CBN also accused the firms of operating without licences as asset management companies in clear violations of its directive as contained in its circular referenced TED/FEM/FPC/GEN/01/012 and dated July 1, 2015.

The apex bank further said that the forex deals by the defendants were undercutting the strength of the naira against the dollar and that there was the need to block the accounts of the first set of firms for 180 days to stop the firms from moving their funds out of the country.

He said: “We need to write the embassy, we need to go to the Foreign Affairs, the minister will serve the US to seek assistance so that we can block these leakages,” he told the court.

In a short ruling, the judge granted the prayers saying the court was satisfied with the reasons given for the action but, however, said that the defendants were at liberty to approach the court and ask that the order be vacated within the stipulated period and adjourned the matter till February next year.

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