Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has ordered Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to close all naira accounts of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTs).

The apex bank had warned operators against paying recipients of diaspora remittances in local currency in a earlier circular.

The bank gave the order on Friday in a circular tilted ‘Receipt of diaspora remittances: Additional operational guidelines 2 addressed to all Deposit Money Banks, Payment Service Providers and International Money Transfer Operators, signed by the director, banking supervision department; and director, payments system management department.

“DMBs are to close all naira accounts for IMTOs. This is to ensure that diaspora remittances are received by beneficiaries in foreign currency only (cash and/or transfers to domiciliary accounts of recipients),” the circular read.

“DMBs are permitted to open new opex accounts for the purpose of the IMTO operations, such as salary payments and other operating expenses excluding diaspora remittance receipts.

“DMBs must ensure that proper audit of IMTO accounts is done to forestall further use of naira accounts for diaspora remittances purposes.”

The CBN had warned that operators who pay beneficiaries of remittances in local currency could lose their operational licences if they failed to comply with its guidelines on remittances.

‌ “Following the recent policy pronouncement on amendment to procedures for receipt of diaspora remittances, the CBN notes material compliance by majority of market participants as beneficiaries of remittances through IMTOs now receive foreign currency through their designated banks,” the bank had said.

“However and regrettably, a few operators continue to pay remittances in local currency contrary to regulatory directive. The CBN frowns on this practice.”