CBN vow sanctions against IMTOs still paying remittances in naira

Access Bank

The Central Bank of Nigeria has vowed to sanction international money transfer operators (IMTOs) that are still, despite its directive, paying remittances in the local currency, naira.

The bank had in December 2020 directed that IMTOs and commercial banks in the country pay beneficiaries of diaspora remittances in foreign currencies, in a bid to deepen the foreign exchange market and create transparency in the administration of diaspora remittances into Nigeria.

It later warned the operators and banks still paying remittances in naira despite the directive and threatened “stiff consequences” against those caught doing so.

Since the takeoff of the new policy, the naira, which had previously taken a plunge in the parallel market amidst low forex supply, has managed to remain relatively steady at about 470 to the dollar for weeks.

Operators such as Western Union, Moneygram, and World Remit that previously paid beneficiaries of remittances in naira, have largely complied, helping to increase dollar supply in the country.

However, in its memo Friday, the central bank said some IMTOs and unlicensed companies have continued to pay diaspora remittances into the country in naira, in clear contravention of its directive that all remittances be paid to beneficiaries in dollars.

The regulator said strict sanctions, “including withdrawal of operating licenses, shall be imposed on any individuals and/or institutions found to be aiding, abetting or directly contravening these guidelines.”

“For unlicensed operators, the CBN shall not hesitate to authorize the closure of their accounts in Nigerian banks, including being barred from accessing banking services in Nigeria,” the bank said.

The Central Bank of Nigeria further clarifies as follows:

Only licensed IMTOs are permitted to carry on the business of facilitating diaspora Remittances into Nigeria;

2. All diaspora remittances must be received by beneficiaries in foreign currency oni (cash and/or transfers to domiciliary accounts of recipients):

3. IMTOs are NOT permitted, under any circumstances, to disburse diaspora remittances in Naira (either in cash or by electronic transfers), be it through naira remittance settlement accounts (which had been earlier directed to be closed), third party accounts or via any other payment platforms within and/or around the Nigerian financial system.

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