The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has brought down the hammer on nine banks for flouting extant financial regulations.
The apex bank has banned them from taking part in all foreign exchange transactions, until further notice.
It was gathered that the banks were sanctioned for non-remittance of dollar funds to the tune of about $2.13 billion belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) into the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
The TSA domiciled with the CBN was created by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to serve as a single receiving account for all government revenue generating agencies.
According to the report, the banks involved with the amounts allegedly withheld are: United Bank for Africa (UBA) $530m; First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) $469m; Diamond Bank Plc ($287m); Sterling Bank Plc ($269m); Sky Bank Plc ($221m); Fidelity Bank ($209m); Keystone Bank ($139); First City Monument Bank (FCMB) $125m and Heritage Bank ($85m).
A source at the CBN however confided that the apex bank is likely to lift the sanction if and when the affected banks remit all the funds into the TSA.
He was however quick to add that other sanctions likely await the eight affected banks even after the funds are fully remitted.
Inquiries within the banks turned up blank, as sources within the affected banks claimed ignorance of the sanctions, and insist they have done no wrong in such regards to warrant a CBN sanction.
Industry sources also expressed surprise at the news, noting, that the affected banks still placed adverts on Monday of their foreign exchange transactions for last week.
But in their reactions to the development, UBA and Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, and FCMB all denied any wrongdoing, insisting, that they never hid any funds, nor failed to remit NNPC funds to the TSA as alleged by the CBN.
The UBA in a terse statement issued last night, said that: “Our attention has been drawn to report of the ban of UBA from the foreign exchange market by the CBN over the non-remittance of NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits.
“We wish to state very categorically that UBA has completely remitted all NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits. We thank all our numerous customers, business partners and other stakeholders who have reached out to us on account of this report.”
Meanwhile, the Acting Director, Trade & Exchange, W.D. Gotring, in a circular to authorised dealers has accused banks of buying and selling forex without following stipulated guidelines.
In the document titled: ‘Re: Transactions in ‘Free Funds’ by Authorised Dealers’, the CBN stated, that it has “noticed that some Authorised Dealers have continued to buy and sell foreign exchange referred to as ‘free funds’ despite the provision of the circular of March 4, 2004 on the subject.”
Gotring stated, that the action of the lenders is a breach of extant regulations.
According to him, “Against the background, authorised dealers are to note that dealing in foreign exchange without appropriate documentation, which includes relevant entries, blotters, physical documents and non-disclosure to the Regulatory Authorities is a breach of extant regulations”.
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