FOREX: Senate unravels alleged N30tn fraud by banks
The Senate, on Wednesday, declared that over N30 trillion has been round tripped by virtually all the commercial banks in the country from 2006 till date in their management of foreign exchange earnings for importers.
This disclosure was made by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Customs, Excise and Tariffs, Senator Hope Uzodinma, after an investigative hearing with heads of the various commercial banks.
According to him, going by submissions made by top management of some the commercial banks in attendance and sensitive records available to the committee, over N30 trillion out of the several other trillions of naira collected by the banks from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as foreign exchange meant for importers, were not utilized but round tripped.
He said it is an age long fraud within the banking sector and has been detrimental to the value of the naira in particular and the nation’s economy in general.
Consequently, he declared that the committee has given the various commercial banks three weeks to come up with detailed documents on their Forex transactions with importers which according to him, must tally with the total amount they have received from CBN, the records of which he said is already with the committee.
He added that the Committee in getting to the root of the alleged fraud and make the necessary recovery, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun and her counterpart in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma have been summoned to appear before it during the next investigative session with top management of the various commercial banks.
He said: “You recall Senate in plenary mandated this committee to investigate and identify areas of revenue leakages in the entire import and export circle. And the committee started investigation and took time to enter into the import and export value chain and identified supposedly areas of leakages and malpractices, ranging from unutilised Form M, abandoned Form M, partially utilised Form M, abandoned assessments of Custom Duties and foreign exchange allocation manipulation.
“We have been able to also go into the database of the operating system in the Nigeria Customs Service and we identified Form M by Form M, import by import, vessel by vessel, liabilities of importers and commercial banks that are yet to be handled. We are talking about monies in regions of over N30trillion.
“We have been able to give all this information to the various banks who purchased foreign exchange on behalf of the importers to go home and come back to show us evidence of utilisation of the forex, failure of which they will be compelled to refund those foreign exchange they bought from Central Bank or inter-bank, purposely to be used for import but not utilized or round tripped.
“What we are saying in essence is that the amount of foreign exchange successive governments have been giving out to commercial banks and importers over the years for the purposes of importation are not being utilised as agreed and invariably making the foreign exchange scarce in the market which to us is detrimental to the nation’s economy.
“There is no bank that is exempted. All the banks are involved, both the banks that are dead and the ones still functioning, because the ones that are no more operating were acquired by some operating ones.”