Banks clarify positions on forex sanction by CBN

Two banks Fidelity Bank Plc and First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc have clarified issues relating to their Tuesday's suspension from the Foreign Exchange Market (FOREX) by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The two banks and seven others were sanctioned by the apex bank for non-remittance of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NNPC/NLNG) deposits to the Treasury Single
Account (TSA).

The bank said that the CBN's action does not affect the operations of its custom­ers' domiciliary accounts.

In a statement issued yesterday, the management of Fidelity Bank said that the deposits were reported to the CBN.

statement read: "You might have read about the recent developments in the industry where the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced a temporary suspension of nine commercial banks from the foreign exchange market due to the non-remittance of NNPC/NLNG deposits.

"We will like to clarify that these deposits were duly reported to the CBN by Fidelity Bank in line with the extant TSA requirements contrary to the er­roneous view in certain media reports that the funds were concealed from the regulators.

"At the commencement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in 2015, Fidelity Bank advised NNPC and the regulators with a schedule of repayment for the NNPC/NLNG dividend dollar deposits.

"Fidelity Bank has repaid over $288 million of these funds in line with the advised repay­ment schedule.

"Please note that you can continue to operate your domiciliary accounts with Fidelity and this development will not affect your deposits/loans (local and foreign currency), re­mittances, transactional services and electronic banking services.

"Although the market condition remains quite challenging, we will continue to hon­our our obligations and operate with the highest level of corporate governance.

"In the interim, we are engaging with the other eight banks involved, stakeholders and the regulators to resolve this issue quickly and ensure our return to the FX market," the bank said.

In its account, FCMB confirmed its temporary suspension along with eight other commercial banks from accessing the foreign exchange market.

The management said the CBN's action was based on the Treasury Single Account Direc­tive, "which stops banks from holding funds on behalf of government entities and instead, effect daily remittances to the CBN. "For our bank, this scenario is based on our non-payment/transfer of the remaining $125million NNPC fund with us to TSA.

"As a financial institution with strong corporate govern­ance rules, we have always fully disclosed the outstanding TSA funds in our books and have continued to work assiduously to fulfill our outstanding obligations. The members of the NNPC Management Team have been kept fully in the picture on the funds. This development is really because of lack of foreign exchange availability and the prevailing fall in oil prices, rather than concealment or willful non-compliance by FCMB. It is actually a widespread industry issue.

"In conjunction with the other institutions, we are working closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria for an amicable and mutually beneficial resolution of this scenario.

"As an institution, our fundamentals remain strong, our franchise is still growing and we remain firmly committed to our professional values," the bank said.

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