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ICPC tasks NASS on cryptocurrency regulation to check high-profile crimes

THE National Assembly has been urged by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to come up with legislations that would regulate Cryptocurrency trading in order to mitigate heinous crimes committed by operators.

The anti-graft commission lamented that kidnapers and bandits now used the medium to perpetrate high profile crimes as 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 National Assembly and ICPC Board/committee directors with the theme, ‘Corruption, IFFS and financing for national development’, which held recently at Watbridge Hotels and Suites Uyo, Akwa Ibom State capital.

According to Owasanoye, the gaps in the law and absence of regulatory framework had emboldened the perpetrators of these crime to swindle unsuspecting members of the public as well as to engage in illicit financial flow.

He said, “There is 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 have only the wallet and the identity of the person is not known to anyone. Those who helped to convert the currency do not have registered organisation. 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.

“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.”

He further explained that the retreat was organised by the commission to enable it interface with the lawmakers and intimate them on some of the challenges facing the commission as well as update them on its achievements.

“We hope this retreat will be impactful and give us opportunity to interact with our oversight committee who would ask questions about what we are doing and we can also talk to them of what we are doing and our challenges and areas they should be beaming their searchlights as lawmakers; it will be a symbiotic and positive interaction,” he added.

Reacting to the ICPC, the Chairman, House Committee on Anti-corruption, Garba Shehu, said the House had made the fight against corruption one of its critical responsibilities, reiterating that the House would partner with ICPC to advance the fight against corruption.

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