CBN bans 11 banks from SMEs forex window

Acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, Isaac Okorafor said banks that refused to sell forex to the SME operators after accessing over $300 million offered to the SMEs wholesale forex window since its creation last month would be sanctioned accordingly.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has banned no fewer than 11 banks from trading in the newly established Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Foreign Exchange Window for making it difficult for customers to access foreign exchange.

This comes on the heels of persistent complaints by customers that some banks have deliberately frustrated their efforts, particularly the SMEs.
Before now, CBN had warned banks about the complaints but asked customers to provide evidence of their claims.

Consequently, the apex bank yesterday retained only eight banks in the SME wholesale Forex window and banned the others. Sources at the CBN said the apex bank took the decision to bar the erring banks based on field reports, which revealed that only eight banks had sold forex to the SMEs segment since the inception of the new window.

The CBN frowned at the action of banks that declined to sell foreign exchange to SMEs to enable them import eligible finished and semi-finished items despite the availability of forex from the CBN Wholesale intervention window.

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications, CBN, Isaac Okorafor said banks that refused to sell forex to the SME operators after accessing over $300 million offered to the SMEs wholesale forex window since its creation last month would be sanctioned accordingly.

Those not banned are Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank, Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank, Unity Bank and Zenith Bank Plc. He warned that the CBN would not sit back and allow any form of instability in the interbank forex market.

Meanwhile, the CBN continued its intervention in the foreign exchange segment by injecting $196.2 million into the Forex market yesterday.Okorafor said the apex bank offered $100 million to authorized dealers at yesterday’s FOREX wholesale auction. It released $52 million to the SMEs segment, while invisibles such Personal Travel Allowance (PTA), Basic Travel Allowance (BTA), Medicals and tuition received $44.2 million.



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