FG orders the freezing of loan sharks’ bank accounts; Google and Apple will remove lending apps

The federal government has ordered banks to freeze the accounts of dodgy loan sharks after raiding their offices. The government has also written to Google and Apple to remove loan apps that violate the country’s laws.

Specifically, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) ordered digital money lenders that were the subject of its regulatory intervention on March 11 to cease operations.

The FCCPC gave the directive in a statement signed by Babatunde Irukera, the CEO of the FCCPC on Monday.

He also said he had started a “thorough investigation” of digital money lenders.

The directive was based on the Joint Interagency Regulation and Enforcement Task Force (RETF) on rights violations in relation to digital money lenders. The task force includes the FCCPC, the National Information Technology Development Agency, the EFCC, the CBN and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission.

“In addition, and pursuant to a Federal High Court order obtained by and granted to the FCCPC, the JRETF has executed a search and seizure order on certain digital money lenders. As part of the operation, the JRETF, in conjunction with the Nigerian Police and the Bailiff of the Federal High Court, searched the premises of money lenders, extracted valuable evidence and, in certain circumstances, banned or restricted operations continue,” Mr. Irukera revealed.

In addition to the raid, he revealed that the commission “entered and served orders on several financial institutions freezing or suspending operations of certain accounts that some of the lenders used to conduct business or involved transactions subject to investigation”.

The FCCPC boss added that the commission has also “entered and served sweeping orders on Google LLC (Play Store) and Apple Inc. (App Store) to enforce the removal of certain apps where evidence has established misconduct. misuse or use of the app in violation of consumer rights.”

According to Irukera, the commission’s order also prohibits “the acceptance and submission of new applications for the same purpose without regulatory review and approval.”

Continuing, he said: “The investigation is still active and ongoing. The JRETF expects further similar actions as it continues to gather additional information in this regard. In the meantime, the commission urges all companies that were subject to regulatory intervention on Friday, March 11, 2022 to cease and desist from interest compounding and loan repayment/recovery practices that make l object of this investigation.

He noted, however, that in the event that any of the loan sharks continued or the commission received credible evidence of this, the offenders would be subject to the full extent of the law, including prosecution.

“The orders of the commission are without prejudice to the repayment by existing borrowers of any legitimate loans in accordance with fair and acceptable terms; or any changes to prior terms and conditions deemed onerous, inconsistent with applicable law or general principles of transparency and fairness,” Irukera warned. “The obligation to comply with the foregoing extends to all officers, employees or agents of the companies concerned.”

He added: “The JRETF welcomes any useful information that could help this investigation. The same can be provided in the Commission’s dedicated evidence collection repository at: [email protected]

Mr. Irukera also mentioned that the commission/JRETF would continue to provide updates to the public and urges consumers to support the investigation.

This, he said, could be achieved by continuing to provide “actionable intelligence” about people associated with companies or practices, their phone numbers and any other relevant information.

(NOPE)

Shawanda H. Saldana