CBN beams searchlight on individuals, companies over forex malpractices
Worried about terrorism financing and money laundering, as well as to make sure that Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) resources are properly tracked and used for the importation of priority goods, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has commenced closer investigations of over 100 companies and individuals over forex malpractices.
Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, had in late August disclosed that the bank was determined to address the issue of forex non-repatriation in Nigeria.
Also, as part of its effort to increase foreign exchange liquidity in the country, the CBN directed all banks in the country to submit the names, addresses and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) of exporters that have defaulted in repatriating their exports proceeds, for further action.
The directive issued by the CBN governor, came barely 24 hours after the Bank announced the abolition of third-party “Form M” payment.
The move by the CBN followed the adoption of the strategy to discourage over-invoicing, which some businesses have allegedly used to divert foreign exchange from the country, through the opening of “Forms M” for which payment is routed through a buying company, agent, or other third parties.
Reports quoted banking sector sources as having said that the CBN is out to guard against terrorism funding and money laundering.
“We are going to continue cracking down heavily on companies in the light of terrorism funding and money laundering. So, we want to make sure that all inflows and outflows are through the right channels,” the source stressed.
He revealed that CBN has requested for all accounts (both Naira and foreign currency) of over 100 suspected companies, who specialise in buying forex from certain unauthorised sources without passing through the legitimate sources, thereby avoiding documentation and overheating the exchange rates.
CBN, he added, is also investigating the avenues through which the companies source forex that they eventually sell to counterparties, who buy and repatriate the funds otherwise known as free funds.
Whereas CBN recognises that certain little payments of sums below $10,000 could be made for travels, school/boarding fees, subscription, fees, hospital bills among others with little or no documentation, the source said some unscrupulous companies had hidden under this guise to illegally transfer/repatriate huge sums of forex out of the country without following laid down rules and regulations of CBN.
The source also revealed that some unscrupulous companies use this guise to conduct export activities on what is regarded as open accounts without completing NXP forms before conducting their export activities thereby avoiding repatriating the forex back to the country through approved and recognised channels.
These illegal exporters, he stated, are known to compromise officials of shipping lines and companies, who turn blind eyes by not demanding for NXP form numbers.
According to him, CBN and customs have always insisted that for any export activity to be conducted, NXP numbers must be stated on all export documents to the shipping companies but the shipping lines have failed in making such requests from the illegal exporters.
“There are also cases where some blatantly go to the BDCs to buy huge dollar cash, deposit them in banks, and resort to transfer of such funds for such unauthorised transactions without documentation using the online medium usually regarded as Straight Through Processing (STP),” he explained, adding: “CBN insists that all forex transactions must pass through the I&E window and the banks to provide full visibility, hence the reason for the ongoing investigations to stop these forex malpractices.”
Some individuals whose accounts are being scrutinised include Mr Okechukwu Ezeh, Mr Adamu Ezeh and Mr Adebutu Bankole.
Furthermore, CBN is also investigating the bank accounts of Haitch & Elf Integrated Services Limited, Fenog Nigeria Limited, Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Hartford Resources Nigeria Limited, Don & Chyke Nigeria Limited, BCL Trading Services Limited, and Omniworx Export Enterprises.
Aioon Energy Limited, Cowry Assets Management Limited, Everdon Nigeria Limited, Caml Bureau De Change and Everdon Bureau De Change are also listed.
The apex bank had earlier placed a post-no-debit (PND) instruction on the bank accounts of 38 companies over allegations of FX manipulation.
Thereafter, the apex bank extended the probe by directing all banks to submit to it the domiciliary account statements of some individuals and organisations involved in the gaming business.
But, the latest findings showed the fresh investigations include: Amarava Agro Limited, Shivlula Nigeria Limited, Afrab Chem Limited, Bhojraj Nigeria Limited, Deeplast Nigeria Limited, Givanas Industry Nigeria Limited, Godrej Nigeria Limited, Far East Mercantile Limited and Malok Nigeria Limited.
Others are Multichem Industries Limited, Nagode Industries Limited, Prima Corporation Limited, Regal Chem Nigeria Limited, Vista International Limited, Budha Logistics Limited, and Mitoch Global Link Ventures.
Furthermore, it listed Stallion Nigeria Limited, Solem Agro Limited, Deekay & Sons Limited, Hana Nigeria Limited, Emel Nigeria Limited, Sonnex Nigeria Limited, Montana Nigeria Limited, Daraju Nigeria Limited, Dasco Nigeria Limited, Savvy Corps Limited, Pan-Cat Nigeria Limited, Mustafa-Multipurpose Services, Olayfis Global Resources Limited, Pals Interchange Concept Limited, 2015 Petroleum & Investments Limited, Manann Nigeria Limited, Brollo Pipe & Profile Ind. Limited, Altrunk Nigeria Limited and Dartford Energy Services Limited.
Others are Global Links Ventures Limited, Elemental Integrated Associates, New Home Distribution (Africa), ACCI Ventures (Nig) Limited, Dover Engineering Limited, John Kell & Associate Nigeria, Maaway Ventures Limited, Good Metal Enterprises, Medlog Logistics Services Limited, Interswitch Nigeria Limited (Dollar Acct), Beirut Hill Construction Limited, CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited, Agrinexus International Limited, Sylvangel Maritime Resources Limited, Unimer SRL Limited, SCIB Nigeria & Company Limited, Domenik LLC, Petro-Afrique Energy Services and Silver Dome Enterprises Limited.
In addition, Petro-Afrique Energy Services Limited, Steel Force Far East Limited, Stemcor London Trading Limited, Fix Nigeria Limited, SA Turutu International Ent., New Brand Metals Global Limited Ventures, Auto Petroleum Company Limited, Cavendish Mechanicals Limited, Aquashield Oil & Marine Limited, were also affected.