Home Business Consumer protection agency freezes 30 more accounts of illegal money lenders

Consumer protection agency freezes 30 more accounts of illegal money lenders

by Business News Report

Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, FCCPC, says it has frozen no fewer than 30 more bank accounts operated by illegal money lenders, called loan sharks, in the country. The Executive Vice Chairman of the Commission, Mr Babatunde Irukera, disclosed this at a media chat , in Abuja, yesterday. His words, “We have blocked bank accounts with respect to loan-Sharks. The day we conducted the raid, we had some limited information about the bank of accounts, that some of them operated. So by the time we raided we had already obtained Search and Seizure order form the High Court.

“All the bank accounts that were provided were immediately blocked. As you probably know these people operate through multiple bank accounts.  Between when we raided and now we have discovered additional over 30 bank accounts and all 30 have been frozen. We will continue to freeze new accounts as we discover them.” The EVC added that the commission had engaged Google and Apple Stores to take down some loan applications from their stores, but said that there were certain processes required for that to happen. According to him,”We also had interim orders to Google Play Store, Apple play store to take down some applications that were being used by the loan-Sharks. We are engaging with Google and Apple and we are sure very soon it would yield results.”

Mr. Irukera said that he  was considering a regulation that would penalise companies without a standalone, clear and accessible consumer complaints resolution platforms. He frowned at the inability of most companies to effectively resolve consumer complaints, as according to him,  the development had increased the number of complaints received by the Commission daily. According to him, “Our complaint resolution team has become a multi-company customer service desk. The reason why people are coming to us more is that they can’t find the people who sold stuffs to them. There is no standalone, clear, accessible, well publicised resolution platforms by these companies for people to reach them. What we are doing is that we are going to write regulations, if you do not have that, there will be a penalty,’’ he said.

Mr. Iukera said the Commission was also developing a complaint resolution platform that would allow companies to plug in through a subscription and receive any consumer complaint relating to them. “With your plugging in, as the system is, as complaint comes against you, it pushes it down to you and it is now your obligation to resolve it and we are seeing it. The FCCPC boss called for improved partnership with the media to educate members of the  public on their consumer rights in order to achieve the objectives of the FCCPC.  “We will now start making them (companies) to pay a subscription since we created what they should have. Federal Government should not be the one creating customer service platform for companies. We will make them pay a subscription to hook up and then when they do not resolve complaints on our dashboard, we will become secondary resolution mechanism and make them pay the cost of resolution,’’ he said.

On airfare increase, Irukera said the Commission was not empowered by the Act establishing it to regulate prices. He said the Act provided that price gouging, exploitative, unreasonable, manifestly unjust terms including price were wrong but determining that price was unjust, unreasonable was a bunch of circumstances. “We are not a price regulator, we are market regulator and only in limited circumstances that FCCPA provide any power to regulate price. It doesn’t give that power to the commission. It provides that limited circumstances upon clear market compelling reasons in certain sectors do FCCPC make the recommendation to the President. It is the President that will approve for price to be imposed or regulated and it must be gazetted and for a short period of time stating how long it will be. And the purpose of that regulation must be to promote competition or in a market where there is no competition and you need to regulate prices for a short period of time’’.

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