19 September 2017

Nigeria: CBN Threatens to Sanction Erring Banks Over Forex Sales

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday threatened to sanction any deposit money bank (DMB) that is in breach of its earlier directive on open teller points for retail forex transactions and electronic display boards in all their branches.

Part of the directive made by the CBN on March 3, 2017 was that the banks should show rates of all trading currencies in their banking halls.

This is even as the apex bank sustained its intervention in the various sectors of the inter-bank Foreign Exchange market with the injection of $545 million.

A circular issued by the apex bank warned that the CBN would mete out stiff regulatory sanctions to banks that fail to comply fully with the directive by October 13, 2017.

The circular signed by the director, Banking Supervision, Ahmad Abdullahi, stressed that the bank will bar erring DMBs from all future CBN foreign exchange interventions.

Recall that the CBN had directed banks and authorized dealers to open a teller point for retail FX transactions (PTA/BTA and SME), including buying and selling in all locations in order to ensure access to foreign exchange by their customers and other users without any hindrance.

The March 2017 circular also directed DMBs to have electronic display boards in all their branches showing rates of all trading currencies, which it urged customers to insist on in processing their foreign exchange transactions for invisibles and the SMEs window.

While noting that the objective was aimed at creating awareness among members of the public regarding the availability of such facilities in branches of the banks at clearly disclosed prices, the CBN frowned at the banks for not fully complying with its directives.

Accordingly, the CBN has given the erring banks a four-week period expiring on October 13, 2017 to fully comply with its directives or face regulatory sanctions, which it noted include, but not limited to, being barred from all future CBN foreign exchange interventions.

Meanwhile, giving a breakdown of the Bank's latest forex injection, its acting director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) received the largest intervention of $285 million.

Other components of the released figures include the $100 million offered for wholesale SMIS, $90 million for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) window and $70 million for invisibles such as Basic Travel Allowances, tuition fees and medical payments.

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