The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says that it is investigating seventy-one companies over alleged infractions related to foreign exchange transactions after preliminary reviews raised suspicions about some of their activities. Sources within the central bank accused the companies of being “the cause of the current volatility and imbalance in the foreign exchange regime in Nigeria with the attendant negative impact on the economy”.
The companies being investigated include: Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Stallion Nigeria Limited, Bhojraj Nigeria Limited, Interswitch Nigeria Limited, Far East Mercantile Limited, Afrab Chem Limited, Multichem Industries Limited, Daraju Nigeria Limited, Dover Engineering Limited, BCL Trading Services Limited, Amarava Agro Limited, Shivlula Nigeria Limited, Deeplast Nigeria Limited, Givanas Industry Nigeria Limited, Godrej Nigeria Limited, Malok Nigeria Limited, Nagode Industries Limited, Prima Corporation Limited, Regal Chem Nigeria Limited, Vista International Limited, Budha Logistics Limited, Mitoch Global Link Ventures and Solem Agro Limited, Deekay and Sons Limited, Hana Nigeria Limited, Emel Nigeria Limited, Sonnex Nigeria Limited, Montana Nigeria Limited, Dasco Nigeria Limited, Savvy Corps Limited, Pan-Cat Nigeria Limited, Mustafa-Multipurpose Services, Olayfis Global Resources Limited, Pals Interchange Concept Limited, 2015 Petroleum and Investments Limited, Manann Nigeria Limited, Brollo Pipe and Profile Ind. Limited, Altrunk Nigeria Limited, Dartford Energy Services Limited, Global Links Ventures Limited, Elemental Integrated Associates, New Home Distribution (Africa), ACCI Ventures (Nig) Limited, John Kell & Associate Nigeria, Maaway Ventures Limited, Good Metal Enterprises, Medlog Logistics Services Limited and Beirut Hill Construction Limited.
The central bank says that it is also investigating CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited, Agrinexus International Limited, Sylvangel Maritime Resources Limited, Unimer SRL Limited, SCIB Nigeria and Company Limited, Domenik LLC, Petro-Afrique Energy Services, Silver Dome Enterprises Limited, Ajibola Bankole Adebutu, Petro-Afrique Energy Services Limited and Steel Force Far East Limited, Cavendish Mechanicals Limited, Aquashield Oil and Marine Limited, Haitch and Elf Integrated Services Limited, Fenog Nigeria Limited, Hatford Resources Nigeria Limited, Don & Chyke Nigeria Limited, Omniworx Export Enterprises, Stemcor London Trading Limited, Fix Nigeria Limited, SA Turutu International Ent, New Brand Metals Global Limited Ventures and Auto Petroleum Company Limited.
Sources close to the central bank who spoke to Lagos Times newspaper on the condition of anonymity said that the far-reaching probe is intended to establish if the companies contravened extant laws in their foreign exchange transactions. The sources added that the central bank is alose trying to ascertain if commercial banks were complicit in some of the alleged infractions.
In August, the central bank had launched two separate investigations, after accusing several gaming companies and associated individuals of buying foreign currencies from the black market instead of patronising official channels. The CBN had also alleged that the companies were engaging in the importation of some items exempted from official foreign exchange and also manipulation of the foreign exchange market. It would later freeze those accounts after securing a court order.
While the CBN says that part of its decision to punish companies involved in buying foreign currency from the black market is due to security concerns and illicit capital flows, industry sources insist that the central bank is shifting the blame to the private sector because it has no solution to chronic dollar shortages that have hit the financial sector in recent months.
A few months ago, GTBank PLC, Nigeria’s largest lender by market capitalisation, announced that it was unable to pay holders of its Global Depository Receipts because the bank was unable to source US dollars from the official central bank channels.
A company executive who spoke to the Lagos Times newspaper on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be targeted by the Central Bank, said that the CBN had failed to provide foreign exchange for legitimate transactions but was now persecuting companies which had been forced to go to the black market in order to keep their businesses running.
“The black market exchange rates are quite high compared to the official rates so why would anyone willingly buy from the black market if the central bank can provide foreign currency at lower rates. The truth is that the CBN cannot meet the demand for foreign currency and the bank rather than examine the problem holistically, is now going after businessmen who are simply trying to keep their businesses afloat.”