CBN alleges illegal trafficking in foreign currency across Nigeria’s borders

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download (80)AS the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) battles to arrest the waning value of the Naira against major currencies of the world, particularly the United States Dollar; the British Pound Sterling and the Euro due to scarcity of the foreign exchange to match the high demand locally, it has announced that some unscrupulous Nigerians have been arrested trafficking in large volume of forex across the Nigerian borders without declaration to the appropriate authorities.

As at yesterday, the Naira was trading between N225 and N230 to a Dollar both at the interbank and the Bureau de change segments of the market.

This is owing to dwindling forex exchange from crude oil sales, Nigeria’s main product.

The apex bank yesterday issued a stern warning to the Bureaux De change operators to be reminded that they are duty bound not to sell forex either by cash or electronically to any customer beyond the recommended threshold of $5,000.adding that the operators must also adhere to rules under which the sale must be carried out.

The alert from the apex bank yesterday said: “The attention of the Central Bank of Nigeria has been drawn to the misunderstanding arising from its circular in respect of import items recently classified as “Not Valid for Foreign Exchange” in any of the segments of the Nigerian foreign exchange market. “

It continued: “The misconception has to do with the fact that some importers believe that they can access Bureau De Change (BDCs) segment for funding of those classified items.

For the avoidance of doubt, the Central Bank of Nigeria has directed that BDCs are not authorised to fund import transactions in any form whatsoever, either by cash or wire transfer.

Accordingly, authorised dealers are hereby barred from effecting wire transfers from the account of their BDCs’ customers henceforth.

“The bank however, stated that the BDCs are only authorized to deal in foreign currency cash and to sell not more than US$5000.00 to an individual customer and strictly for the following transactions: i)Business Travel/Personal Travel Allowance ii) Monthly mortgage payment iii) School fees abroad iv) Credit card payment v) Utility bills vi) Life insurance premium payment

“Meanwhile, the apex bank has noted the unwholesome practice of movements of huge foreign currency cash across Nigerian borders by individuals and corporate bodies without compliance to extant law of declaration to the appropriate authorities. The Bank is already collaborating with other relevant agencies of government to ensure compliance to the provisions of the law, “ the alert further stated.

A very senior Comptroller, who confided in The Guardian on condition of anonymity, said several seizures and arrests of currency traffickers have been effected particularly at the airports.

The officer however denied knowledge of the CBN’s latest alert, promising to find out details from the desk officer.

It would be recalled that recently two children of former Governors of Jigawa and Osun States were caught with huge sums of hard currencies at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport and the Aminu Kano International Airport respectively.

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Hamilton Nwosa

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