The U.S. authorities have trained over 50 Nigerian investigators and prosecutors to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled organised crimes.
The training, which was held virtually, focused on enhancing the capacity of Nigerian investigators to investigate cryptocurrency.
The webinar was a collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the U.S. Embassy in Kenya Addis Ababa, the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria and the U.S. government on policies and programmes to combat international narcotics and crimes.
Cryptocurrencies are digital or virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and others, that can be used to buy goods and services. They are also traded for profit.
Being unregulated and requiring no physical bank vaults, they provide a relatively safe haven for criminals to launder proceeds of corruption, fraud, drug trafficking, and other heinous crimes.
There are also concerns about their security with many sophisticated fraudsters able to hack into the digital vaults to steal them from their owners.
A study by White stream, an Israeli-based blockchain analytics firm, regarded Nigeria’s commercial hub as the ‘Focal Point’ for Africa’s crypto scams.
The research indicated that many scammers create a persona of luxurious life achieved from the wealth created with cryptocurrency investments to attract unsuspecting victims.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had barred commercial banks and other financial institutions from transacting with cryptocurrency in fear of the risks it poses to investments and the economy at large.
In justifying the essence of the ban, Osita Nwanisobi, CBN Acting Director of Communications, in a statement in February, explained that cryptocurrencies transaction was devoid of proper regulation and prone to financial crimes in the country.
The apex bank said its decision is based on “significant risks that transacting in cryptocurrencies portend – risks of loss of investments, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flows and criminal activities.”