BY EMEKA EJERE
The resolve of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has taken a new dimension, with the apex warning that defaulters of the new foreign exchange policy may face criminal prosecution.
Recall that the CBN had at the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, hit at the Bureau De Change (BDC) operator in the country for illegal forex trading and stated that it would discontinue the sale of forex to them.
The apex bank also directed Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to set up teller points in designated branches for the sale of foreign exchange to meet legitimate forex requests of their customers.
The CBN had been supplying each licensed BDCs $10,000 twice per week at the rate of N393 with the instruction that they should sell with a margin of N2.
But CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele said the currency dealers had defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users, but instead, had become wholesale and illegal dealers.
He said, “Operators in the BDC have not reciprocated the gesture to help maintain price stability in the market since the CBN had been selling forex to them.
Expectedly, the banks through their chief executive officers (CEOs) promised to support the new FX measures of the apex bank and the regulator’s effort to achieve stability.
Accordingly, the banks have warned that defaulters of the new foreign exchange policy may face criminal prosecution by the banking sector regulator.
The banks in emails to their customers said that defaulters of the new FX policy may face sanctions such as being barred from accessing FX from the official FX market, restrictions on their bank accounts as may be determined by the CBN as well as criminal prosecution.
In a syndicated email to customers, the banks said, “In line with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s policy to improve access to foreign exchange for legitimate transactions, we are committed to providing you with foreign exchange for your personal and business travel as well as payment for overseas education, medical and other eligible invisible transactions.
“As our valued customer, you have a role to play to ensure the success and integrity of the policy. To enable us to serve you better, you are reminded to note the following rules when applying for FX for Personal and Business Travel.
“FX shall be sold for legitimate travel purposes only. Always have a clear intention and legitimate purpose to travel. You are required to provide a valid Nigerian passport and a valid visa to an international destination.
“Only valid travel documents shall be accepted. Your ticket must be to an international destination outside of West Africa and Cameroon. You are required to provide an international return ticket, with a travel date not more than 14 days from the date of PTA/BTA purchase.”
The banks added that customers could only apply for PTA and BTA once every quarter, and were liable to $4,000 and $5,000 per quarter per applicant respectively.
The banks said, “Customers are required to return purchased PTA/BTA to their bank within two (2) weeks from the date of purchase if not utilised for the intended purpose or if for any reason the scheduled trip is cancelled.
“Do not apply on behalf of a third party. FX will only be sold directly to applicants who shall be Nigerians who are 18 years and above and have a valid Bank Verification Number. False application and use of fake documents to purchase PTA/BTA is strictly prohibited and is a financial crime punishable under the applicable laws in Nigeria.
“Defaulters of this FX policy may face sanctions that include being barred from accessing FX from the official FX market in the future, restrictions on their bank account(s) for such periods as may be determined by CBN as well as possible criminal prosecution.”
Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC, and First Bank of Nigeria Limited are among the DMOs that have sent the emails to their customers.