The Federal Government of Nigeria has commenced an “advanced investigation” of digital money lenders.
Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) chief, Babatunde Irukera, made the announcement Monday.
He issued a statement on behalf of the Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force (JRETF) comprising the FCCPC, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).
Irukera noted that pursuant to an order of the Federal High Court, the JRETF executed a search and seizure order on certain lenders.
The team extracted valuable evidence and in some circumstances prohibited or restricted continuing operations.
Irukera said the FCCPC has served the order on banks, suspending operations of accounts which some of the companies used to conduct transactions under probe.
Further, the Commission also entered and served wide-ranging orders on Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (App Store) to enforce the withdrawal of certain applications”, he noted.
Those affected were found to have engaged in inappropriate conduct or the use of their application to violate the rights of consumers.
Additionally, the court order prohibits the acceptance and presentation of new applications for the same purpose without regulatory assessment and approval.
The investigation is still active and ongoing. The JRETF expects further and similar action as it continues to gather additional intelligence to that effect.”
The businesses raided on Friday, March 11 were directed to desist the interest compounding and loan repayment/collection practices under investigation.
Violators will be subjected to the full extent of the law including prosecution (without an option of administrative regulatory resolution)”, the statement warned.
The FCCPC added that its orders are without prejudice to existing borrowers repaying legitimate loans or modifications to previous terms and conditions.
The Task Force urged citizens to provide useful information and evidence that may assist the ongoing inquiry.