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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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News and Report

Just In: President Tinubu approves N70,000 minimum wage

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President Bola Tinubu has approved N70,000 as the new minimum wage for Nigerian workers with a promise to review the national minimum wage law every three years.

 

More details later…

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Gov. Zulum Clarifies Son’s Purported Killing Of Chinese National At Indian Nightclub

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The Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum, has denied reports alleging that one of the sons has been arrested and sentenced to prison for the murder of some Indian citizens.

Reports has it that there were unverified rumours, especially on social media platforms, alleging that the first son of the governor, Umar Zulum Umara, killed the Chinese national during a fight at an Indian nightclub.

However, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on New Media, Abdurrahman Ahmed Bundi, dismissed the reports in a statement on Wednesday.

According to him, no son of the governor was arrested or charged with any crime.

The statement read, “attention of the Borno State Governor’s Media Unit has been drawn to rumours circulating that the son of the Borno State Governor has been arrested for the alleged murder of some Indian citizens.

“This misinformation was published in an online blog, Nairaland, titled “Son of Borno State Governor Murders Someone In India—Politics.” The blog claimed that the Governor also travelled to India, attempting to use diplomatic status to resolve the matter.

“It is on record that Governor Babagana Zulum was on a one-month vacation in Saudi Arabia for the 2024 Hajj and later travelled to Egypt to attend the annual ASUWAN forum conference in Cairo.

“The Media Unit would like to clarify and set the record straight that Nairaland and other online blogs have mischievously spread defamatory content without any speck of truth.

“We hereby warned Nairaland and all those who have spread the false information to pull down this misinformation from its website and platforms within the next 24 hours and offer an unreserved apology to Governor Zulum, his son, and the entire family, or risk legal action. The Governor shall also not hesitate to take legal action against any media outlet that continues to publicise this defamatory information on its platform.

“We would like to inform the public that none of Governor’s Zulum’s son was either arrested or charged with any crime, or involved in any unlawful activities anywhere.

“We urge the public to exercise caution when consuming and sharing information, particularly when it comes from unverified sources and blogs instead of credible media outlets.

“We enjoin all media organisations to engage in responsible journalism of truth and factual verification while recognising the potential harm and psychological trauma the spread of false information might have caused to the Governor’s family.”

 

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Over 600,000 Nigerians sought asylum abroad under Buhari – Report

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Over 600,000 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries between 2016 and 2023, which were years under the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Buhari was President from 2015 to 2023 and handed over to President Bola Tinubu who was sworn in on May 29, 2023, after winning in the general elections the same year.

According to a report released on Wednesday, July 17, 2024, by Statisense, a data collection organisation, of a total of 664,384 in eight years, 355,792 persons sought asylum between 2016 and 2019 while 308,592 sought asylum between 2020 and 2023.

On a year-by-year basis, 66,862 sought asylum in 2016, 91,924 in 2017, 84,624 (2018), 112,382 (2019), 73,233 (2020), 83,105 (2021), 83,402 (2022), and 68,852 in 2023.

The figures indicate a surge from the past years, as Statisense noted that within 12 years – 2004 to 2015 – only 204,791 Nigerians filed for asylum in other countries.

In total, 869,175 Nigerians filed for asylum in the last 20 years, notably from 2004 to 2023.

The report was posted on the organisation’s X.com handle @StatiSense, citing the United Nations Refugee Agency.

In another report shared by the organisation on Wednesday, it was stated that the Republic of Niger topped countries with the most Nigerian refugees in 2023 with about 200,497 Nigerians and a total of 1,268,464 Nigerian refugees between 2015 and 2023.

Niger, a border country, shares proximity with Nigeria’s north, where residents battle a spate of insecurity in the region ranging from banditry, terrorism and herdsmen-farmers crisis.

Another report also revealed that Nigerians topped the list of African countries who sought asylum in Canada in 2023 with about 10,111 asylum seekers followed by Kenya with 1,345.  It stated that 1,345 Nigerians however sought asylum in the United Kingdom and 5,136 in the United States of America.

Source: The Punch

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