emefiele-CBNNigeria’s Central Bank has barred nine commercial banks from all foreign exchange transactions and operations.

The banks were barred for hiding some $2.12 billion belonging to the nation’s oil corporation, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and failed to remit the funds into the Treasury Single Account.

A top Central Bank source confirmed on Tuesday that President Muhammadu Buhari had been briefed on the matter and the sanctions to be imposed on the defaulting banks.

The nine banks comprise of three tier-one lenders and another six tier-two deposit money banks. All the banks remain barred from foreign exchange operations until they fully remit the NNPC funds into government coffers via the Treasury Single Account, the apex bank said.

The Treasury Single Account of the government was established in August 2015, with the government, saying it would help check leakages in the system.

The apex bank’s decision to bar the banks comes two months after it released the highlights of the much awaited flexible foreign exchange market policy. The highlights, which are key notes and agreements reached by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), were released on Wednesday, weeks after the Monetary Policy Committee announced the introduction of the policy.

After its meeting of May 24, the CBN said the policy would allow the bank retain a small portion of foreign exchange for critical transactions

The commercial banks, whose suspension would remain in force until they remit all funds to the TSA, according to the Central bank includes:
United Bank for Africa (UBA) -$530m;
First Bank of Nigeria (FBN)- $469m;
Diamond Bank Plc-$287m;
Sterling Bank Plc-$269m;
Sky Bank Plc -$221m;
Fidelity Bank -$209m;
Keystone Bank- $139;
First City Monument Bank (FCMB) -$125m; and
Heritage Bank-$85m.

However, going by the calculation, the erring banks had in its records Zennith Bank (Undisclosed amount), which was later removed from the list of barred banks.

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