20 September 2018

Nigeria: CBN Engages MTN, Banks Over Fines

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Wednesday disclosed that it had been engaging MTN Nigeria and the four banks that were recently sanctioned over allegation of illegal capital repatriation.

The development, the apex bank said, followed the provision of additional information by the affected institutions, which it said was being reviewed.

The central bank disclosed this in a statement wednesday.

Following a fine of N5.87 billion the CBN recently imposed on Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Citibank and Diamond Bank, the banking sector regulator had about two weeks ago, debited the accounts of the respective banks.

The banks were fined over an alleged violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1995, and the Foreign Exchange Manual, 2006, on behalf of MTN Nigeria.

The CBN had also directed MTN to immediately refund $8,134,312,397.63, which was illegally repatriated by the telecoms company, to the coffers of the bank. For the banks, the highest fine of N2,470,604,767.13 was slammed on Standard Chartered Bank, while Stanbic IBTC Nigeria was fined N1,885,852,847.45. Citibank also got fine of N1,265,541,562.31, just as Diamond Bank was directed to pay N250 million penalty.

But in its latest statement that was signed by its Director, Corporate Communication, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, the CBN explained, "In response to the recent regulatory actions, the banks and MTN are engaging the CBN and have provided additional information which is currently being reviewed with a view to arriving at an equitable resolution.

"The CBN acknowledges the public interest over sanctions recently imposed on four deposit money banks. We wish to restate that the CBN will continue to welcome foreign investments and investors.

"Indeed, some of our recent innovations and reforms of the foreign exchange regime such as the introduction of the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) window are designed to simplify foreign exchange regulations."

Furthermore, it pointed out that the delegation of the issuance of Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) to commercial and merchant banks some years ago was done to instil confidence in the investor community and encourage the flow of foreign direct and portfolio investments into the Nigerian economy.

"The recent sanctions on the banks arose due to irregularities with respect to repatriations made on behalf of MTN Nigeria Limited and were not in any way designed to restrict access to investor returns.

"We assure all investors that the integrity of the CCI regime remains sacrosanct and there shall be no retroactive application of foreign exchange rules and regulations. The CBN welcomes all legitimate investors to take advantage of the enormous investment opportunities in Nigeria," it added.

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