By Emma Ujah
At the backdrop of a directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to publish names of customers who circumvent the new foreign exchange (forex) guideline, commercial banks have rolled out a penalty regime against contraventions of the guideline.
The CBN directive to the banks was specific on offences bordering on customers buying foreign currencies with fake visas or genuine travel tickets under the pretext that they wanted to travel but cancel the ticket after obtaining the forex.
Consequently, yesterday some banks, in a BTA/PTA (Business Travel Allowance/ Personal Travel Allowance) Guidelines sent to customers, warned against the infractions saying it is a financial crime punishable under applicable laws in Nigeria.
In the messages to the customers which Vanguard sighted the banks stated: “Defaulters of this Forex policy may face sanctions which include being barred from accessing Forex from the official Forex market in the future, restriction on their bank accounts for such a time as may be determined by the CBN as well as possible criminal prosecution.”
CBN’s Director of Banking Supervision, Mr Haruna Mustafa, in the memo referenced: BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/14/059 and dated August 30, 2021, directed the banks to publish the names and BVN of all such customers, on their websites.
The memo, titled “Publication of names of Defaulters of the CBN Policy on Sale of FOREX to BTA/PTA,” reads in full, “The CBN has received and noted with concern reports of sharp practices by some unscrupulous customers to circumvent the new CBN policy on the sale of forex for overseas personal and business travel.
“Some of these unwholesome practices include the use of fake visas and cancellation of air tickets after purchase of PTA/BTA.
“This trend, if not curbed, portends risk to the integrity and stability of the forex market.
“Consequently, further to the various measures already put in place, all banks are hereby directed to publish on their websites, the names and BVN of defaulting customers who present fake travel documents or cancel their tickets and fail to return the purchased PTA/BTA within two (weeks) as stipulated in the customer declaration form signed by them.”