By Dipo Olowookere
Any organisation found to be involved in the importation of 41 items prohibited by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will be severely punished, the apex bank has said.
A circular issued yesterday by CBN Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Mr Kevin Amugo, said such firms will be blacklisted alongside their directors, while their bank accounts would be closed and they would be restricted “from maintaining any bank accounts in any bank under the CBN remit.”
In addition, “banks that provided their platforms for such economic abuses would also be appropriately sanctioned,” the CBN said.
Mr Amugo explained that the apex bank gave these warnings because it observed that some elements were circumventing the policy, noting that “the restricted items are being dumped in the country.”
The CBN noted that it came up with this policy on July 1, 2015 “as part of its developmental objective of employment generation and inclusive growth in Nigeria.”
The policy restricted the availability of foreign exchange to the importation of 41 items, which could be competitively produced within the economy.
This policy has resulted in massive investments and the establishment of cottage industries that now engage in the production of the restricted items across the country.
Mr Amugo said in the circular that, “The growth and employment benefits have been phenomenal,” but emphasised that if not monitored, “the growth and employment benefits arising from the policy may be eroded.”
The CBN said its Economic Intelligence Unit has partnered with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to commence immediate investigation of the accounts of the corporates and entities engaged in this unwholesome act with a view to visiting severe sanctions on all the culprits. It warned commercial banks operating in Nigeria to take the Know Your Customer (KYC) and Know Your Customer Business (KYB) requirements seriously.
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