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CBN talks tough, refuses to reverse ban on BDCs

….retains lending rate at 11.5%
…goes after AbokiFX for fraud

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is not yielding ground on recently introduced forex policy which stopped forex supplies to Bureau de Change operators. Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor reaffirmed this position Friday in Abuja at end two-day meeting of Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the bank, saying that, the bank took the decision to cut source of financing terrorism and procurement of weapons by the bandits.

This was, as MPC for the umpteenth retained lending rate (MPR) at 11.5 per cent; asymmetric corridor of +100/- 700 basis points around the MPR and retained the CRR at 27.5 per cent and Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent. CBN governor said MPC hinged decision to retain lending rate and other rates, on robust recovery of output growth during the second quarter and the continued decline in inflation.

He said that, members, however, re-iterated the need to put in place further measures to drive down inflation and improve real returns on investment. “The MPC noted the unequivocal importance of credit growth to the sustained recovery of output and the moderation in price development as supply improves.

It thus, called on the Bank to maintain adequate surveillance on banks to ensure compliance with its extant credit policy, while ensuring that they are not unduly exposed to credit risks. The Committee also noted the relevance of the Bank’s suite of interventions to the overall system credit, urging its continued use to fund sectors with high employment-generating capacity”, he said. Reviewing the new forex policy that came into effect in July yesterday, Emefiele said:” We have decided that this will stop and it has stopped for good.

It beats my imagination that Nigeria carried on with this kind of practice that tended to support illegal activities of people who are involved in graft and involved in corrupt practices. Instead of collecting Naira as bribe you tell the person to exchange it to dollar so that you can have some packet of dollars in your pocket. Yet the CBN in an attempt to moderate the market decides that it will take dollars to support the corrupt tendencies of people. Or is it about through its activities that we have unwittingly supported activities of those who illegally buy foreign exchange from this illegal market, carry them in aircrafts out of the country and go to buy arms and ammunition and bring them back into the country and conduct crime whether it is Boko haram, kidnapping all sorts of nefarious activities we the CBN take our country’s dollar and sell to people to go and buy arms ammunition to come and hurt us, that is what we are saying that people want us to continue to do.

We cannot do that any longer”, he said. Reacting to Aboki FX, a website providing currency exchange information, Emefiele dubbed the platform, “illegal and criminal platform” Aboki FX has been providing regular updates on the weight of local currency, the naira against the United States’s dollar for two months ago when apex bank introduced a new forex policy which cuts off forex supply to Bureau De change operators. The naira has been on a free fall against the dollar. He promised to shut down the operations of Aboki FX adding that, he will ask security agents to go after him.

“We will report him to international agencies, we will track him, Mr Oniwinde- we will find you, because we cannot allow you to continue to conduct an illegal activity that kills our economy. “For those who think they are smart and they want to continue to sabotage the efforts of the Central Bank in running this economy for the good of Nigerians and this government, we will make life very difficult for you I have given instructions to our experts to go after his website and let it be clear that we will go after him, because we can’t allow this to continue.” CBN said findings revealed that the company was registered in the UK in November 2015, adding that the owner had claimed that there are other Nigerians who have significant interest in the business.

“But he does not want to name them. So, who are these significant persons behind him? Why are they hiding? This is on UK’s finding records and we will go there and conduct those investigations. He and the company have over 25 bank accounts with about eight banks in both naira and dollar with significant turnover also showing him simply milking the system through speculative activities on the Naira and collecting his proceeds in cash through a particular ATM in London,” he added. He alleged that CBN preliminary findings revealed that AbokiFX was built for the purpose of foreign exchange manipulations and speculations.

“He gets Naira notes and uses it to purchase dollars, take a position and change the rates over a given period, sell the dollars they purchased and make a profit. This is completely illegal; it is unacceptable and we will pursue them,” he added.

Experts who spoke to Saturday Telegraph on CBN’s stance against Aboki FX differed. A former Commissioner for finance, Imo state and professor of Capital market, Prof Uche Uwaleke said the governor was in order for demanding source of information from Aboki . “The CBN Governor says the company should explain the sources of the data that it publishes. I agree”, he said. Financial Adviser and Wealth Management Expert, Mr. Gabriel Idakolo differed. He said that exchange rate published by Aboki were factual and accurate. “Aboki FX has been publishing forex rates for some time now and it has been found to publish accurate positions of Naira against other currencies. However, I want to believe that the CBN has duly investigated their dealings before tagging them illegal. The CBN forex policy has not lifted the Naira out of the woods but has caused the continuous depreciation of the Naira against other currencies. I hope the CBN is not looking for a scapegoat in Aboki FX to justify its failure on the forex policy”.

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