A Federal High Court has ordered the management of Jaiz Bank Plc to freeze four accounts belonging to Aquashield Oil and Marine Services upon claim by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the accounts are being used for illegal foreign exchange trading.
Justice Inyang Ekwo gave the order while ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the CBN and argued by its lawyer, Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), a former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice.
In the ruling given on February 3, 2021, a copy of which The Nation saw on Monday, Justice Ekwo gave a mandatory order empowering the CBN to direct the head office of Jaiz Bank Plc “to freeze forthwith, all transactions on the under-listed bank accounts of the defendant/respondent (Aquashield Oil and Marine Services) for a period of 180 days.”
The CBN identified the affected accounts as: 0004763990, 0004755887, 0004763983 and 0004763969.
In documents it filed in court, the CBN stated that the freezing order was required to halt further debit transactions on the affected on the accounts pending the outcome of its on-going investigation and to preserve the balance on the accounts from being dissipated.
It added that the freezing Aquashield Oil and Marine’s accounts would also enable the CBN to pursue its investigation into the activities of the oil firm to a logical conclusion.
The apex bank added that the decision to apply for the order was informed by its on-going investigation of Aquashield Oil and Marine Services in relation to its “role in illegal foreign exchange trading, accessing/procuring of foreign exchange via their bank accounts from the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market via Bureaux De Change (BDCs), International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) and Commodity Exporters contrary to provisions of extant laws and regulations.”
It stated that the “illegal foreign exchange trading being undertaken through the bank accounts of the defendant/respondent (Aquafield Oil and Marine) has continually undermined the CBN’s efforts to maintain a stable foreign exchange regime which has caused and is causing a significant economic and financial loss to investors as well as the financial system in particular and the Nigeria economy in general if not curtailed.”
The CBN added that “the investigation being carried out concerns grave allegations of involvement in illegal foreign exchange trading, accessing/procuring of foreign exchange via their bank accounts from the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market via Bureaux De Change (BDCs), International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) and Commodity Exporters contrary to the provisions of extant laws and regulations by the defendant.
“The aforesaid transactions undertaken by the defendant, using their bank accounts, can cause significant financial loss to members of the public if left unchecked.”