The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Wednesday imposed a N5.87 billion fine on Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic-IBTC, Citibank, and Diamond Bank over alleged illegal remittance of foreign exchange to offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited.
Also the CBN directed MTN to refund 8.13 billion dollars which was illegally repatriated by the company with the aid of the four Nigerian banks.
In a statement issued by the CBN on Wednesday, the nation’s apex bank accused the commercial banks of carrying out the transaction without regular ‘Certificates of Capital Importation (CCIs)’ which is a compulsory pre-requisite for such transactions.
The CBN Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor who issued the statement described the action of the banks and MTN as ‘flagrant violation of extant laws and regulations of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,”.
Giving a breakdown of the imposed fines, Okorafor said Standard Chartered Bank would pay a fine of N2.47 billion, Stanbic IBTC, N1.88 billion, Citibank Nigeria, N1.26 billion and Diamond bank, N250 million.
Okorafor while explaining the banks’ offenses, disclosed that investigations by the CBN revealed that 3.45 billion dollars was repatriated by Standard Chartered Bank on the basis of illegally issued CCIs.
Similarly, he said the sums of 2.63 billion dollars, 1.766 billion dollars and 348 million dollars were repatriated by Stanbic IBTC Nigeria, Citibank Nigeria and Diamond Bank Plc, respectively during the period 2007 and 2015.
He said the CBN had directed the affected banks to pay the fines to the apex bank immediately.
Okorafor said that “the CBN investigation further revealed that on account of illegal conversion of MTN shareholders’ loan to preference shares (interest free loan) of $399,594,146.00, the sum of $8,134,312,397.63 was illegally repatriated by the company.
He advised all banks and multinational companies in Nigeria to adhere strictly to the provisions of all extant laws and regulations of Nigeria in their foreign exchange transactions.
He warned that failure by the management of banks and companies to abide by the existing guidelines, they would be appropriately sanctioned adding that the sanctions may include denial of access to the Nigerian foreign exchange market.
Upon the conclusion of the investigation, the Committee of Governors of the Central Bank of Nigeria met with the management of your bank and the other banks as well as representatives of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited in Lagos on May 25, 2018. This was to give all the parties fair hearing, towards taking an informed decision on the matter.