CBN debits banks N5 billion over MTN funds repatriation

Diamond Bank Headquarters Photo: Business News
Diamond Bank Headquarters Photo: Business News

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has debited the accounts of three banks to the tune of over N5 billion, as punishment for financial infractions, PREMIUM TIMES learnt on Thursday.

The deductions were made after the CBN imposed fines on the four banks for helping South African telecoms firm, MTN, illegally repatriate money from Nigeria.

The apex bank had last week imposed a total of N5.87 billion fines on the banks, saying they violated Nigerian foreign exchange laws.

The four banks are Standard Chartered Bank (N2.47 billion), Stanbic IBTC Nigeria (N1.88 billion), Citibank Nigeria (N1.265 billion) and Diamond Bank Plc (N250 million).

On Thursday, Reuters reported that Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC and Citigroup had been debited to the tune of over N5 billion.

The news agency reported that the central bank debited N2.4 billion ($7.9 million) in fines from Standard Chartered and N1.2 billion from Citigroup.

Stanbic IBTC confirmed in a disclosure notice sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange that it had been debited.

“Following our earlier announcement to the Nigerian Stock Exchange on 30 August, 2018, in respect of the penalty of N1.886bn imposed by the CBN on our banking subsidiary – Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc (the ‘bank’) in relation to the remittance of foreign exchange on the basis of certain capital importation certificates issued to MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, we write to update the NSE that the CBN had debited the account of our banking subsidiary with the CBN for the full amount of the above stated fine advised to the bank,” the bank stated.

The bank, however, restated its position that it did nothing wrong, adding that the debit would not impact on its capacity to handle clients’ requests or clients’ ability to continue to carry out viable business transactions with either the bank or any member of the Stanbic IBTC Group.

The bank said: “Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc as well as our banking subsidiary maintains our position on this matter, which is the fact that the bank has done nothing illegal and accordingly the bank will continue to provide the CBN with documents and details in support of our contention that our actions in relation to these transactions were not illegal.”

It was unclear Thursday whether Diamond Bank had been debited and the bank made no such disclosure to the stock market. PREMIUM TIMES efforts to clarify the position from its spokesperson proved abortive Friday morning.

Last week, apart from the fines imposed on the banks, the apex bank also directed MTN Nigeria Communications Limited to refund a sum of $8,134,312,397.63, which was said to have been illegally repatriated by the company.

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