Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, is preventing the bank from imposing fines amounting to $6.5billion on banks that exported forex illegally.
In the third quarter of 2017, the firm of Tope Adebayo LLP undertook forensic analysis of all available certificates of capital importation (CCIs) and foreign exchange documentations for remittances and (or) repatriation of dividends to offshore corporate shareholders of MTN Communication Nigeria Ltd, with a view to tracing and recovering illegal remittances.
In its findings, it was discovered that 10 individuals and corporate entities were implicated in the forgery and/or production of false CCIs to the CBN and the foreign exchange market, contrary to Section 29 (1)(d) of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Provisions Act Cap. F34 LFN, 2004.
The report was provided to the CBN, and instead of acting on it, Emefiele refused to take action for about two months.
However, after much pressure from the Attorney General’s office, in the last quarter of 2017, he directed CBN examiners to proceed to the affected banks with the report of the law firm to ascertain the veracity of the lawyers’ claim.
The examiners’ report showed that about USD 11 billion was illegally repatriated, and recommended that the banks be mandated to return the forex to Nigeria’s foreign reserve forthwith.
The relevant departments of the CBN and the Board of Governors later reviewed the report of the examiners and by May 2018, they reached a conclusion that about USD 6.5 billion be returned by the affected banks to the economy.
The CBN Governor was supposed to impose the fine by June 2018, but for certain reasons has not taken action in that regard.
Members of staff of CBN have also wondered why the Governor has refused to act on the imposition of fine, despite the substantial reduction in what ought to have been the overall value of the fines. The Governor had pleaded that the banks be given fair hearing and that areas where the banks had objection be removed from the report.
As things stand, there are allegations that the CBN Governor may been compromised.
In the last 10 years, banks in the United States have paid about USD360 billion in fines as a result of regulatory breaches and its economy has been the beneficiary.
It would appear that many foreign companies in Nigeria take advantage of the country’s seemingly weak regulatory environment to derail the policy of government, which subsequently leads to the devaluation of Naira, which has attendant negative consequences on the economy.
SaharaReporters attempted to reach out to Emefiele for comments, but Isaac Okoroafor, CBN's acting Director of Corporate Communications, ignored text messages and phone calls to his mobile line.