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September 13, 2021

Deposit money banks in Nigeria acting on the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) have sent notices to their customers warning that identities and Bank Verification Number (BVN) of those who contravene the apex bank’s new forex policy on overseas personal and business travels will be published.
The CBN had also directed that travelers who buy foreign exchange from banks for travel purposes but fail to embark on the trip after 2 weeks of their scheduled travel date must return the forex to the banks.

The banks in their notices also pointed out consequences for those customers who engage in fraudulent and unethical practices with regards to the purchase of Personal Travel Allowances (PTA) and Business Travel Allowances (BTA). Bank accounts of people involved in shady purchase of PTA/BTA may also be restricted under the crackdown.

What are the banks saying?

According to reports some of these banks like First Bank informed their customers of the strict implementation of the CBN forex policy by exposing the identities of those engaged in sharp practices. The banks also promised to ensure transparent, efficient, stable foreign exchange market for legitimate users.

The report said First Bank, in a message to its customers, said, “We have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to inform all our customers that unethical practices to circumvent the new CBN policy on the sale of forex, such as the presentation of false travel documents, visas, and the cancellation of flight tickets, after purchasing personal travel allowance and business travel allowance, will no longer be tolerated.

“Defaulting customers who present fraudulent travel credentials or cancel their tickets and fail to refund the purchased PTA and BTA within two weeks, as stated in the signed customer declaration form, will have their identities and bank verification numbers published. “We aim to implement this policy immediately as an organization that is fully compliant with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s rules and regulations.

“Our bank is committed to partnering with the CBN to ensure a transparent, efficient, and stable FX Market that meets the needs of all legitimate users.”

Reports also said that UBA, which moved to implement the CBN forex policy, encouraged its customers to adhere to all the apex bank guidelines as directed. An e-mail sent by the bank reads, “In line with our promise to keep you up to date on policies that may affect you, please note that the CBN has directed all banks to publish a list of PTA/BTA defaulters on their website.

“Customers involved in fraudulent practices such as presenting fake visas or canceling airline tickets after receiving PTA/BTA and failing to return the funds received to the bank within two weeks will have their details published (name and BVN) on our website.”

What bank customers should know

It can be recalled that CBN who expressed concerns over people who are taking undue advantage of its policy on forex, recently directed all commercial banks to publish the names and BVNs of customers who engage in fraudulent and unscrupulous practices to obtain foreign exchange from banks on their websites.

The apex bank in its circular on the forex abuse dated August 30, and signed by the CBN Director, Banking Supervision Department, Mr. Haruna Mustafa, said the forex fraud, if not curbed, presented a risk to the integrity and stability of the FX market.

Analyst View

These are tougher days for the biggest economy in Africa in respect of foreign currency availability and policies. The shortfall in supply has made round-tripping and funneling FX from banks to black-market lucrative for FX hustlers. The new CBN policy will go a long way in curbing abuses and malpractices that have marred the Forex policy landscape in Nigeria.