By JVINN Okafor (Managing Editor/Head, Business & Finance Desk)
All banks operating in Nigeria have been mandated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to publish, on their websites, names and Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) of customers who have violated the guiding the rules on acquisition of Foreign Exchange currencies.
The CBN's directive arose from reports of alleged unwholesome conduct by some bank customers to subvert the new Forex policy by the apex bank on the sale of foreign exchange currencies for overseas business and private travels, among other illicit financial practices.
In an official circular to all the banks signed by the CBN's Director, Banking Supervision Department, Haruna B. Mustafa, referenced (BSD/DIR/PUB/LAB/14/059) and dated Monday, August 30, 2021, the CBN noted dissatisfaction, the report it had received in respect of "sharp practices by some unscrupulous customers to circumvent the new CBN policy on the sale of forex for overseas personal and business travel”.
The apex bank also stated that among the illegal practices, are the use of fake visas and cancellation of air tickets after purchase of PTA/BTA. The CBN said this trend, if not curbed, "portends risk to the integrity and stability of the forex market".
As a way of mitigating the trend, the regulating bank, therefore, gave the operating banks a matching order to immediately commence the publication on their websites, the offending "names, and BVN of defaulting customers who present fake travel documents or cancel their tickets and fail to return the purchased PTA/BTA within two (weeks) as stipulated in the customer declaration form signed by them”.
The banks, had, in course of implementing the Central Bank of Nigeria's new policy on Forex, informed their customers that banks will continue to make available their Forex needs for Business and Private Travels including other foreign commitments like payment for overseas Medical, Education, and sundry currency transactions.
The CBN has however laid down rules and criteria which bank customers must fulfill for Forex to be made available to them. Among them are, that customers of banks should provide valid Nigerian travel passports and authentic visas to a foreign country of destination and that Forex shall only be sold for legitimate travel purposely only.
Other criteria are that: international return tickets must have a travel date of not more than 14 days from the date of PTA/BTA purchase, and that only valid travel documents like tickets to an international destination outside of West Africa and Cameroon will be admissible by the Forex issuing banks. NNL.