Forex: CBN Bars 15 Nigerian Banks From SME Sales Window

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday barred 15 banks from dealing in foreign exchange through the recently created small and medium enterprises (SMEs) wholesale forex window.

The decision by the apex bank to wield the big stick followed persistent complaints against the erring deposit money banks, DMBs, that they were deliberately frustrating efforts by many of the SMEs to access foreign exchange through the new window.

Confirming the development, the CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said the decision was based on field monitoring reports, which found eight of the banks not culpable.

Mr. Okorafor did not mention any of the banks involved.

However, a highly-placed source, who requested that his name not be disclosed, identified the eight to include seven of the 22 commercial banks and one non-interest bank.

The banks found not culpable include Access Bank, Diamond Bank, Fidelity Bank, Heritage Bank, Sterling Bank, Unity Bank, Zenith Bank and Jaiz Bank.

While those the source said were culpable are Citibank, Ecobank, Enterprise Bank, First Bank, First City Monument Bank, Guaranty Trust Bank, Key Stone Bank, MainStreet Bank, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, SunTrust Bank, Union Bank of Nigeria, United Bank for Africa, and Wema Bank.

Mr. Okorafor said the CBN frowned at the action of the banks that refused to sell foreign exchange to SMEs to enable them import eligible finished and semi-finished items, despite the availability of forex from the CBN wholesale intervention window.

“All banks that had refused to sell FOREX to the SME actors after accessing over $300 million offered to the SMEs wholesale forex window since its creation last month will be sanctioned accordingly,” he said.

He warned that the CBN would not sit back and allow any form of instability in the interbank forex market through the actions of institutions or individuals.

He, therefore, urged all stakeholders to play by the rules for the benefit of the entire country and its economy.

Meanwhile, the CBN continued its massive intervention in the foreign exchange segment of the financial market by injecting $196.2 million  into the various segments of the Forex market on Tuesday



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