The Nigerian Drugs Law Enforcement Agency NDLEA has revealed the newest tool for money laundering and easy cash smuggling out if the country – the bank ccount debit card. In a statement on Saturday, the NDLEA described as money laundering, an arrangement of using multiple debit cards to withdraw money from multiple bank accounts to circumvent the minimum amount of daily withdrawal.
”That criminal plan will not work because we shall continue to seize such cards and arrest the perpetrators at all entry and exit points,” said Ahmadu Giade, NDLEA’s Chairman.
Mr. Giade spoke following the arrest of two travellers, at the weekend, with 89 debit cards at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.
Pauline Nweke and Frank Egesiokwu were arrested with 64 and 25 debit cards respectively during the screening of passengers on an Ethiopian Airline flight to China.
Mr. Nweke, an Onitsha-based trader, said that the debit cards belonged to his friends, relatives, and business partners.
“I was on my way to China to buy goods when NDLEA officers arrested me with 65 debit cards,” said Mr. Nweke, 40, who hails from Enugu State and is married with two children.
Victoria Egbase, Director of Assets and Financial Investigation at NDLEA, said that preliminary investigation showed that the suspects opened various bank accounts to facilitate withdrawal of money outside the country.Mr. Giade said the suspects would be handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission for further investigation. The duo’s arrest came less than one week after Pascal Udeh, another Onitsha-based trader, was arrested at the Lagos airport with 108 debit cards enroute China.
“The arrests is an indication that smuggling of debit cards abroad is one of the latest money laundering techniques employed to evade financial regulations,” said Mr. Giade. Last April, the Central Bank of Nigeria reviewed the foreign exchange spending, reducing the daily cash withdrawal limit for ATM users to US$300 from a previous US$2,500.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency has warned travellers smuggling multiple Automated Teller Machine cards to desist from the act or face the law.