By Dipo Olowookere
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday said it was having discussions with MTN Nigeria and the four banks recently sanctioned for foreign exchange infractions in order to reach an “equitable resolution.”
Last month, the apex bank asked the telecom giant to return the $8.1 billion it allegedly moved to South Africa without due process and fined Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank Nigeria and Standard Chartered Bank N5.87 billion for their alleged role in the deal.
Two of the four banks trading their securities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE); Diamond Bank and Stanbic IBTC Bank through its parent firm, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, later confirmed the deduction of their respective fines from their accounts by the CBN.
In a statement issued yesterday and signed by its spokesman, Mr Isaac Okorafor, the CBN said MTN and the affected lenders “have provided additional information which is currently being reviewed with a view to arriving at an equitable resolution.”
Mr Okorafor emphasised that the sanctions were never “designed to restrict access to investor returns,” assuring all investors that the “integrity of the CCI regime remains sacrosanct and there shall be no retroactive application of foreign exchange rules and regulations.”
The central bank, while welcoming legitimate foreign investments and investors, charged them to “take advantage of the enormous investment opportunities in Nigeria.”
It stressed that, “Some of our recent innovations and reforms of the Foreign Exchange regime such as the introduction of the NAFEX window, are designed to simplify foreign exchange regulations.
“Furthermore, the delegation of the issuance of Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs) to commercial and merchant banks some years ago was done to instil confidence in the investor community and encourage the flow of foreign direct and portfolio investments into the Nigerian economy.”
“The recent sanctions on the banks arose due to irregularities with respect to repatriations made on behalf of MTN Nigeria Limited and were not in any way designed to restrict access to investor returns,” the apex bank explained in the statement.
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