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CBN uncovers $2.4bn forex forwards scam



Former chairman of Citibank Nigeria Yemi Cardoso will succeed Godwin Emefiele as CBN Governor

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has uncovered discrepancies in foreign exchange forwards transactions valued at $2.4 billion.

Disclosing this while addressing a press conference after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 26, 2024, CBN Governor Yemi Cardoso, stated that law enforcement agencies are currently investigating the transactions.

He noted that these transactions are deemed ineligible for payment.

The CBN governor further shed light on the meticulous forensic audit conducted on these transactions, uncovering numerous discrepancies and rendering them invalid.

The CBN, upon settling certain tranches of FX backlog, encountered transactions marred by issues concerning their authenticity.

Consequently, Deloitte management consultants were engaged to conduct a comprehensive forensic analysis spanning several months to scrutinize the legitimacy of these forward-contracted transactions.

During the audit process, it was established that several transactions failed to meet the criteria for validation. Instances were found where allocations worth millions of dollars were disbursed without corresponding requests, and some transactions lacked proper documentation or were outright illegal.

According to Cardoso, “In the cause of that forensic audit, we determined that a number of these transactions did not qualify. In some cases, you had some requests, which well you actually had some allocations that were made in millions of dollars, which were never requested for.

“You also had somewhere they had no Naira and they were also allocated, you know, huge sums, the foreign exchange and the list goes on and it was for that reason that we refused to validate those particular transactions.

“We refused to validate them because you know apart from the fact that documentation was not satisfactory in many cases they were outright illegal and the law enforcement agencies of course are now looking into those transactions that are as far as we’re concerned, not valid to be paid.”

Addressing concerns about potential backlogs among stakeholders, Cardoso assured that the market remains open and transparent for them to address any outstanding contractual obligations. However, the CBN has diligently verified and settled recognized backlogs of forward transactions.

Cardoso reiterated the CBN’s commitment to maintaining price stability and fighting inflation. He emphasized the need for strict adherence to the core mandate of the central bank, ensuring the restoration of the average Nigerian’s purchasing power.

To this end, the MPC announced a significant hike in the benchmark interest rate to 24.75 percent as part of efforts to curb inflation. This decision, accompanied by adjustments to reserve requirements for banks, aims to tighten control over the money supply and stabilize prices.

According to Cardoso, the committee decided to: raise the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 200 basis points to 24.75 percent from 22.75 percent; adjust the asymmetric corridor around the MPR to +100/-300 basis points; retain the Cash Reserve Ratio of Deposit Money Banks at 45.0 percent; adjust the Cash Reserve Ratio of Merchant Banks from 10.0 percent to 14.0 percent and retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30.0 percent