Nigeria’s anti-corruption body is set to charge senior officials from the central bank and some commercial lenders following their arrest in connection with an alleged 8 billion naira ($40 million) currency fraud scheme, the agency said on Monday.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) said six central bank officials and 16 commercial bank staff accused of currency theft and recirculating naira notes intended for destruction would appear in court on Tuesday.
“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency,” it said in a statement.
It was unclear from the statement which of Nigeria’s banks were involved.
The announcement comes three days after President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as leader of Africa’s biggest economy and top oil exporter. A crackdown on corruption was one of his central election campaign pledges.
The central bank regularly withdraws old or torn notes from circulation to replace them with new ones. Officials said the scheme had had no impact on money supply or inflation, which has hovered around 8.7 percent since April.
The naira has lost 8.5 percent of its value since the start of the year after sharp falls in the price of oil, Nigeria’s main export, forced the central bank into a de facto devaluation in February in order to save its dwindling foreign reserves. ($1 = 199.00 naira)