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BUSINESS NEWS: FG probes firm for supporting illegal online lenders

BUSINESS NEWS: FG probes firm for supporting illegal online lenders

Publish date: 2022-07-04 23:33:59 | Author: Sami Tunji | Source: punchng.com

The Federal Government, through the Nigeria Data Protection Bureau, has said it is investigating the role of an unnamed consulting firm for supporting the illegal activities of some online lenders in Nigeria.

The National Commissioner of the bureau, Dr Vincent Olatunji, disclosed this during an exclusive interview with The PUNCH.

A media report in May had revealed that an unnamed consulting firm was backing the operations of Soko Lending Company, an online lending platform.

The media report prompted the investigation by the NDPB, The PUNCH learnt.

The National Commissioner of the NDPB said, “We got a lead that one major consulting firm in Nigeria is working with them and we are trying to go against that one too. We are investigating it.”

He disclosed that there is a joint committee, which includes government agencies such as the National Information Technology Development Agency, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigeria Police Force, the Nigerian Communications Commission and the NDPB.

 According to the National Commissioner, this committee intends to introduce a regulatory framework for loan applications in the country. He said, “The good news is that we now have a national joint committee of a lot of Federal Government institutions, such as NITDA, NDPB, FCCPC, ICPC, Nigeria Police, CBN and the NCC. We are doing a joint collaboration to look at this issue. The CBN will approach it from the part of the regulatory body for the financial sector. The ICPC will look at the perspective of financial crime.  NITDA will look at it from the perspective of technology. NDPB will look at it from the perspective of privacy and protection. NCC will look at it from the perspective of telecommunication.

“So, we are looking at regulations and technology, and trying to issue a framework, which we are going to issue shortly to guide them so that they don’t just take advantage of Nigerians,” he said.

In August last year, NITDA sanctioned Soko Lending Company Limited, with a fine of N10m for privacy invasion.

NITDA said it found Soko Loan to be in violation of the use of the non-conforming privacy notice, contrary to Article 2.5 and 3.1(7) of the Nigeria Data Protection Regulation.

In March this year, the FCCPC, alongside ICPC, NITDA, and the Nigerian Police Force raided some online lenders operating on Opebi Road, Ikeja, Lagos.

Among the financial institutions affected were GoCash, Okash, EasyCredit, Kashkash, Speedy Choice, and Easy Moni.

The FCCPC also said it had frozen no fewer than 30 bank accounts operated by the illegal loan organisations.

The Executive Vice Chair of the Commission, Babatunde Irukera, also said that the commission had engaged Google and Apple Stores to take down some loan applications from their stores, noting that there were certain processes required for that to happen.

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