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Forex Scarcity: Zenith And Stanbic IBTC Banks In Multi-million-dollar Round-tripping Scandal

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Commercial banks in the country are raking in millions of dollars from a foreign exchange round-tripping, which has been fuelled by the acute shortage of hard currency in the economy, investigation has revealed.

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria has been rationing forex to prospective importers in the past 16 months, after the global fall in the prices of crude oil, the nation’s main forex earner.

 

The situation has exacerbated over time and tens of thousands of applications for forex by intending importers have been kept on hold by the CBN for months.

 

Sources close to the forex racketeering said the dollar shortage had led to a situation where prospective importers apply to the CBN through their banks for forex for months without getting it.

 

The continued acute scarcity, it was learnt, had been capitalised upon by the commercial banks who are now selling several millions of dollars obtained from the CBN on their clients’ names at huge premiums above the N199 to $1 official rate approved by the central bank.

 

According to sources familiar with the situation, thousands of helpless importers who are in desperate need of forex to import products ranging from raw materials to equipment are milked on weekly basis by the greedy banks.

 

Findings by our correspondent showed that the scheme, which has been on for several months as the forex scarcity worsens by the day, has made many top bank executives multi-millionaires overnight.

 

Out of about $10m to $25m (depending on the volume of demand by its customers) sold by the CBN to commercial banks in some weeks, illegal profit to the tune of $5m could be made by each of the banks involved in the forex racketeering.

 

A prospective importer, who was recently approached by a major bank ( Zenith Bank) in the country involved in the forex racketeering, told our correspondent that many importers had no choice but to buy the scarce forex from the banks despite the huge and illegal premiums being made by them.

Peter Amangbo, GMD:CEO Zenith Bank

 

Narrating his ordeal, an importer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear of being victimised by the bank, said, “We need $295,000 to import some equipment. We have been on the so-called CBN queue since October. The bank said no forex. Recently, the bank called us that there was forex but not at the official rate.

 

They wanted to sell to us at N275 to $1. Out of about N81m we are to pay, only about N59m goes to the CBN, which is the official rate. The balance goes to the bank officials who get this allocation from the CBN. This is the type of stupid money they make now, God saves Nigeria.”

 

Explaining further, the visibly angry importer said, “The bank’s officials said they had $5m as of January 29. So calculate how much they made for that week alone.”

 

The forex racketeering victim said the bank officials had told him that the difference between the CBN rate of N199/$1 and the N275 to the dollar rate they were offering him would be paid through a cheque written on a name to be provided by the officials. He added, “The bank will debit my account at the CBN rate and then I will give them a cheque for the balance.”

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Controversial Sterling Bank caught in the act! CBN sanctions, parades officials for hoarding new naira notes [VIDEO]

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Officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have discovered N6 million of the new naira notes hoarded in Sterling Bank Plc, Ado Ekiti branch on Bank Road, Ado Ekiti in Ekiti State, having received the funds for over two weeks, THE WITNESS reports.

 

In a trending video on social media, seen by THE WITNESS, a man who identified himself as Oluwole Owoeye, a deputy director of CBN, while monitoring the distribution of the new naira notes in the state, was seen questioning the bank officials as to why they have not uploaded the funds into their Automated Teller Machines, (ATMs), despite having six of the machines in place.

 

The CBN director also announced a fine of N1 million for each day the fund was in the bank’s custody.

 

The CBN official said, “I am currently at Sterling Bank, on Bank Road as part of the new naira notes monitoring compliance with the guidelines by CBN. They have N6 million, which they collected from the bank for almost two weeks, they have not disbursed any. They said they are yet to configure their ATMs, I do not know why that and I have brought attention to the penalty clause of N1 million per day, because they have five ATMs here, they have no reason for keeping this money.

 

“The zonal service manager, Tunde Onipede promised that by 10:00am latest tomorrow (Monday), because I told him by latest 10:00 am I’ll be here and I want to see the machine dispensing this money.

 

“What is the name again? Olumide Owolabi (Service Manager, Ado) & Motunrayo Babayele. My name is Oluwole Owoeye and I am a deputy director of CBN.”

 

WATCH VIDEO HERE:

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FCMB Manager Arrested For Hoarding New Naira Notes

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A manager of the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) branch in Osogbo, Osun State capital, has been arrested for allegedly preventing Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) loaded with cash from dispensing money to customers.

The spokesperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC), Azuka Ogugua, in a statement on Friday said the cash bundles were loaded into the ATMs while still wrapped, and as such, could not be dispensed through the machines

“The ICPC Compliance Team in Osogbo has busted an FCMB in Osogbo, Osun State, where some ATMs were loaded with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed.

“The Team, therefore, directed that the wrappers be removed, and the cash loaded properly’.

Similarly, seven Point of Sale (POS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during the ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash.

Investigations, however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

The arrested persons are helping the Commission with information to assist investigations and bust any syndicates involved in the hoarding or sales of the redesigned notes.

 

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New naira: ICPC arrests Stanbic IBTC Bank manager over sabotage

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), has arrested an official of Stanbic IBTC Bank in Abuja for alleged sabotage.

The ICPC spokesperson, Azuka Ogugua, said the development was in continuation of ICPC’s clampdown on elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public.

The bank official, who is the branch service head of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Deidei Branch in Abuja, was taken into custody for her deliberate refusal to upload cash into the branch’s Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) even when the cash was available and people were queuing at the ATM points.

The statement reads: “When the ICPC monitoring team stormed the bank at about 1:30pm on Friday to ensure compliance, and demanded explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, the team was informed by the branch’s head of operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.

“However, facts available to the ICPC operatives indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash earlier around 11:58am and either willfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.

“Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.

“The ICPC said investigations were still ongoing and the Commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded.

“Similarly, seven Point of Sale (PoS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during an ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash.

“Investigations, however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

“The arrested persons were helping the anti-graft commission with information to assist investigations and bust other syndicates involved in the hoarding and sales of the redesigned Naira notes,” the anti-graft agency said.

 

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