On August 31, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it discovered some Nigerians who bought forex for Personal Travel Allowance (PTA ) and Business Travel Allowance (BTA) with fake visas at designated banks, a practice that could lead to the blockage of account details of such defaulters or face prosecution.
The apex bank immediately directed banks to make public the account details of those who committed such forex fraud.
The motive of such defaulters was to buy dollars at cheaper rate, which is N414 while they’d most likely sell at black market rate which is between N550 to N570 as the fx scarcity continues in the parallel market.
The aim was to make profit from the PTA they obtained at cheaper rate. They could make at least N3,000,000 per deal.
CBN had said they would not go unpunished. It also threatened to suspend the forex licence of banks that collude with forex fraudsters to commit such financial crime.
In fulfilment of CBN directives, the United Bank of Africa (UBA) published the names of forex defaulters on Friday, September 24, 2021, on its website.
Titled, “CBN directive on forex defaulters”, UBA said the affected customers cancelled their trip and failed to return the PTA they purchased.
The bank hinted that the customers were given the grace to return the forex through “several mails, text messages and follow up phone calls” failed to refund the purchased PTA and BTA within two weeks, as stated in the signed customer declaration form.
The defaulters are:
- Felix Aleakwe Zibiri
- Ajoke Azeezat Oseni
- Okafor Patrick Chukwuemeka
We’re awaiting other banks to follow the footsteps of UBA and publicly expose those who are bent at frustrating the efforts of the Emefiele-led CBN to cleanse the fx market of fraud.
NANTA Warns Ticketing Officials At Airports Against Forex Fraud
Meanwhile the National Association of Nigeria Travellers Agencies (NANTA) has warned its members against purchasing forex with fake tickets, a letter sent to the body by the Head of Account Management, West and Central Africa, Samson Fatokun, has revealed.
The letter which was addressed to Mrs Susan Akporiaye revealed how forex defaulters carry out such sharp practices in possible conjunction with ticket officials.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) called , attention to the criminal practice of air tickets being issued to unscrupulous persons for fraudulent purchase of BTA and same tickets are voided the same day once the economic fraud has been committed.
” This nefarious activity amounts to economic sabotage as it constitutes a leakage in the CBN foreign exchange supply system.”
In what was described as “ticket renting” NANTA was directed to alert its members “about this fraudulent practice and warn that whichever agent that might be involved in this economic sabotage to desist from it.”
CBN had stopped the sales of foreign exchange to Bureau De Change on July 27, 2021, following what Godwin Emefiele described as sharp practices of the operators in the fx market.
The governor of the apex said it was no longer sustainable to fund a group of people who use same to carry out illegal trade and the forex were diverted to banks.
Nigerians who needed to settle bills like PTA, BTA, foreign school fees, and for foreign medicals were directed to approach banks and present the required documents.
CBN can’t do it alone
While the CBN was trying to return sanity to the forex market, it’s heartrending to discover that economic saboteurs exploited the process to obtain the insufficient forex.
To have quickly discovered the defaulters, it means the CBN has the capacity to monitor and track all transactions if it worked with relevant agencies, most especially in the aviation industry.
This is commendable, forex defaulters should be made to face the full wrath of the law.
Still, the apex bank needs to do more by exposing the political class who carry out similar acts, this will not only help the economy, it will also help the CBN to rebuild its integrity as being fair and build confidence and trust among Nigerians.
It needs to collaborate with agencies and stakeholders in the fx market including banks.