If the investigation carried out by The Punch is anything to go by, then it appears several employees of commercial banks are exploiting the current acute shortage of foreign currency in the country to make money. The paper notes employees of commercial banks who have access to the forex trading desk engage in illicit activities that is tantamount to round tripping.
A victim narrates how it works?
“We need $295,000 to import some equipment. We have been on the so-called CBN queue since October. The bank said no forex. Recently, the bank called us that there was forex but not at the official rate. They wanted to sell to us at N275 to $1. Out of about N81m we are to pay, only about N59m goes to the CBN, which is the official rate. The balance goes to the bank officials who get this allocation from the CBN. This is the type of stupid money they make now, God saves Nigeria. The bank’s officials said they had $5m as of January 29. So calculate how much they made for that week alone.”
The article further explains that the forex racketeering victim said the bank officials had told him that the difference between the CBN rate of N199/$1 and the N275 to the dollar rate they were offering him would be paid through a cheque written on a name to be provided by the officials. The bank will then debit his account at the CBN rate while he now gives them the balance via a cheque.
Opponents of the current CBN forex policy have cited currency restrictions and the huge disparity between the official and black market rate as a huge arbitrage opportunity for unscrupulous operators. The CBN also confirmed this leading to the shutting out of BDC operators in January which they claimed were round tripping. The CBN apparently, has no way of knowing this illicit activities except they are informed by victims. However, critics believe some of them are equally culpable and will rather take a cut instead of reporting these activities to appropriate authorities.