- Restrictions of foreign exchange by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) have led to a significant leap in the trafficking of foreign currencies across the country’s borders.
- According to sources in the foreign exchange market, since the introduction of the restrictive policies, importers who are desperate to remit funds to their suppliers have resorted to devising creative ways of taking out foreign currencies across land borders and through the airports.
- Findings reveal that though, only a few importers were initially carrying out such transfers, their numbers have increased in recent weeks after it increasingly became clear that the apex bank was not going to review the policies.
- Some of the currency smugglers have developed various means of taking money out of Nigeria. About a week ago, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) had arrested a Bureau De Change (BDC) operator and five others for swallowing $156,000 with the intention of smuggling it out of the country. The six suspects were arrested in a Lagos hotel while swallowing the cash, which they had planned to smuggle to Brazil.
- A dealer in the BDC segment of the forex market, who declined to be named, said more importers were taking foreign currencies outside the country because they had found various methods of beating security officials.
He said: “You know that the average Nigerian can be quite determined to have his way, especially when the issue involves money. I can tell you that many people who are taking dollars outside the country are no longer scared of being caught. We hear that this is because the security agents have now become very cooperative and even when an importer is caught, he always finds a way of reaching a settlement with them, which will allow him to still take out the funds.”
- According to report by Reuters last week, the measures had forced firms to use informal “transfer markets”, whereby people abroad wire dollars on a company’s behalf at exchange rates that are well below the official rate to the dollar. It also reported that some executives now carry bags of foreign currencies in cash to deposit in neighbouring countries.