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Customers Scam Banks With Fake Visas, Tickets For Forex

forex

Customers scam banks with fake visas, tickets for forex

Eight weeks after the Central Bank of Nigeria stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change operators and asked legitimate travellers to approach the banks to access cheap forex, the banks have been inundated with fake demands, findings have revealed.

More customers have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to obtain the forex at cheaper rate, and prevented genuine travellers from gaining access to forex.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had said that the BDCs defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users and had become wholesale and illegal dealers.

“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer,” he said.

He said the CBN had maintained its stand to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs.

Emefiele urged any Nigerian who had legitimate business to conduct to take the business to the banks to buy cheap forex.

He also said the banks would sell forex to travellers to pay for school fees and medical bills.

According to him, travellers could access up to $4,000 for Personal Travelling Allowance and $5,000 for Business Travelling Allowance.

He added, “I want to put it on record that if the amount you want is above the limit that is recognised and we find that the reason you are making those demands is legitimate, the bank will speak to us and we will give you what is even more than the limit.

“If you have dollars to sell, go to your bank. We will continue to monitor the banks.”

Findings, however, showed that the banks have been reporting fraudulent forex demands to the CBN.

Confirming this, Emefiele said, “We conducted a study; one of the banks in one day sold to 52 people who said they wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets.

“How could you have a situation where about 70 per cent or 80 per cent who went to bank to buy BTA on the reason that they want to travel, banks sold to them, they turned back and went and sold to the black market. They were asked to return it and we are going to pursue you if you are involved in these nefarious activities.”

Emefiele added, “If you go to bank with fake visa, fake passport, we have told them not to sell to you. If they sell to you mistakenly, and after two weeks, we check and find that you cancelled your ticket or your visa is fake, they will call you because you are their customer.

“They have your BVN, they have your number, they will call you to return the dollars. If you do not return it, they will place your name on their website, your BVN on their website, we will pick those details.

“We will send them to EFCC and other crime agencies, they will pursue you and you must return the dollars because you cannot acquire it illegally. That is our position.”

However, some legitimate travellers have complained that they applied for forex at their banks but could not get it before their trips.

A traveller, who identified himself just as Felix, said, “My wife applied for PTA at the bank. Today, they called to inform her that they do not have dollars and she should seek alternative means from BDCs.

“This was despite sending mails out that travellers could buy forex five hours before their trip.”

Another traveller, who did not want to be named, said, “I applied for forex and was going to the bank and spending hours there for three days but they did not sell to me and did not inform me that they would not sell to me after wasting my precious time.

“I had to go the BDCs to buy at the black market rate when I was travelling. I spent three days trying to get dollars at the bank before my trip; I could not.”

A source from one of the banks who would not want to be quoted said that there were instances of customers applying for forex but did not travel after two weeks from the bank’s findings.

According to him, the customers did not return the forex that they bought to the bank.

He said the banks had to go through a lot of processes to confirm the payments before selling the forex and many applicants were on the waiting list.

While explaining the reasons why many travellers had been applying but could not get forex, he said that the bank could only sell the quantity of forex available to them when they are only able to finish confirming the applications.

Meanwhile, the naira had maintained its downward trend after falling to N570/$ on Friday from N490/$ before the CBN stopped forex sales to the BDCs in July.

The naira however traded around N412/$ at the I&E forex window which is the only official rate the CBN governor said he recognised.

As part of efforts to solve naira crisis, the CBN on Friday vowed to clampdown on Abokifx, an online forex publication.

It had accused the website, its owner and patrons of manipulating the exchange rates to sabotage the economy.

In response, abokiFX suspended its publication of exchange rates between the naira and other currencies on its website.

AbokiFX disclosed this in a statement on Friday evening titled ‘Temporary suspension of rate publication – AbokifX’. It said, “AbokiFX has taken the decision today, the 17th of September 2021, to temporarily suspend rate updates on all our platforms, until we get better clarity of the situation.

“Final rates have been posted this evening but the abokiFX news section and the Crypto rates section will still be active.”

A former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Sam Nzekwe, said forex should not be allocated to the BDCs but the BDCs should source for the forex by themselves.

“Allocating forex to them is like throwing money into an area that you don’t have adequate control because you don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

On the happenings in the banks, he said it was necessary to monitor the banks very well to make sure that they were playing according to the rules.

According to him, people could make quick money from the forex if they were not well monitored.

Banks have continued to tell beneficiaries of the cheap forex sales to return them if not used.

First Bank of Nigeria said in an email to its customers titled ‘Adherence to forex sale policy’, that “We have been directed by the Central Bank of Nigeria to inform all our customers that unethical practices to circumvent the new CBN policy on the sale of forex, such as the presentation of false travel documents, visas, and the cancellation of flight tickets after purchasing personal travel allowance and business travel allowance, will no longer be tolerated.

“Defaulting customers who present fraudulent travel credentials or cancel their tickets and fail to refund the purchased PTA and BTA within two weeks, as stated in the signed customer declaration form, will have their identities and bank verification numbers published.”

More banks have also been passing the same message to their customers, findings revealed.

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Business

British pound plunges to new low as tax cuts spark concern

British pound plunges to new low as tax cuts spark concern

The British pound fell to all-time low against the U.S. dollar early Monday after Treasury chief Kwasi Kwarteng pledged a sweeping package of tax cuts, fueling concerns about the government’s economic policy as the United Kingdom creeps toward recession.

The pound fell as low as $1.0373, before rallying to $1.0672 in early London trading. It was its lowest level since the decimalization of the currency in 1971.

The British currency has lost more than 5% of its value against the dollar since Friday, when Kwarteng announced the biggest tax cuts in 50 years. It comes as the government plans to spend billions of pounds to help consumers and businesses struggling with high energy bills that are driving a cost-of-living crisis. The combination sparked investor concern about spiraling government debt.

Kwarteng and Prime Minister Liz Truss, who took office three weeks ago, are betting that lower taxes and reduced bureaucracy will spur economic growth and generate enough additional tax revenue to cover government spending. Economists suggest it is unlikely the gamble will pay off.

Opposition Labour Party economy spokeswoman Rachel Reeves said Kwarteng had “fanned the flames” of instability by talking up more tax cuts and said the government’s policies were “reckless.”

When grilled about his economic policy Sunday, Kwarteng said he believed the government was acting responsibly.

“There’s more to come,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “We’ve only been here 19 days. I want to see, over the next year, people retain more of their income because I believe that it is the British people that are going to drive this economy.”

As it is cutting taxes, the government plans to cap electricity and natural gas prices for homes and businesses to help cushion price rises that have been triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine and have sent inflation to near a 40-year high of 9.9%.

This program will cost 60 billion pounds, and the government will borrow to finance it, Kwarteng said Friday.

He said Sunday that it was the right policy because the government needed to help consumers squeezed by the unprecedented pressures caused by the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain can afford the cost because its debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is the second lowest among the Group of Seven large industrial economies, Kwarteng said. In the coming months, the government will announce plans for reducing the nation’s debt, he said.

When grilled about his economic policy Sunday, Kwarteng said he believed the government was acting responsibly.

“There’s more to come,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “We’ve only been here 19 days. I want to see, over the next year, people retain more of their income because I believe that it is the British people that are going to drive this economy.”

As it is cutting taxes, the government plans to cap electricity and natural gas prices for homes and businesses to help cushion price rises that have been triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine and have sent inflation to near a 40-year high of 9.9%.

This program will cost 60 billion pounds, and the government will borrow to finance it, Kwarteng said Friday.

He said Sunday that it was the right policy because the government needed to help consumers squeezed by the unprecedented pressures caused by the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Britain can afford the cost because its debt as a percentage of gross domestic product is the second lowest among the Group of Seven large industrial economies, Kwarteng said. In the coming months, the government will announce plans for reducing the nation’s debt, he said.

“Obviously, I will be setting out plans for the medium-term fiscal plan, as we’re calling it, that will show that we’re committed to net debt-to-GDP to be falling over time,” Kwarteng said.

The pound’s decline against the dollar also has been fueled by the Bank of England not keeping pace with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s efforts to rein in inflation. Britain’s central bank on Thursday raised interest rates by half a percentage point, compared with large three-quarter-point increase by the Fed last week. But U.K. inflation is the highest among major economies, and the bank has predicted a recession later in the year.

While the pound’s slide has accelerated in recent days, the currency has fallen steadily against the dollar for more than a year as investors sought the security of U.S. assets amid the economic shocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

The British currency has dropped more than 24% against the dollar since its recent peak of $1.4181 on May 27, 2021.

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Business

37 firms get licences to produce 762.3MW

37 firms get licences to produce 762.3MW

Fresh licenses and permits have been issued to 37 companies to produce a total of 762.3 megawatts of electricity in order to boost power supply across the country, data obtained from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission showed.

An analysis of the commission’s latest Fourth Quarter 2021 Report on Sunday also indicated that the metering of power users dropped by 71.86 per cent when compared to the number of those who were metered by power distribution companies in the preceding quarter.

In the new report, the NERC said, “The commission approved the issuance of four new generation licenses with a total nameplate capacity of 508.5MW and the renewal of two existing licences in 2021/Q4.

“The commission also granted an aggregate capacity of 253.75MW captive power generation permit to eight companies and approved 25 mini-grid permits.”

It stated that 46 metering service providers consisting of 17 installers, 15 manufactures, two vendors and 12 importers were also approved by the commission in 2021/Q4

“The commission granted a total of 85 licenses and permits in 2021/Q4,” the report stated.

On metering, it stated that the huge metering gap for end-use customers was still a key challenge in the industry.

“A total of 81,084 meters were installed in 2021/Q4, as compared to the 288,154 meters installed in 2021/Q3,” the NERC stated.

Providing an explanation for this, it said, “The reduction in the number of meter installations in 2021/Q4 was largely driven by the winding down of the NMMP (National Mass Metering Programme) phase zero.

“The commission’s records indicate that, of the 10,514,582 registered energy customers as at December 2021, only 4,773,217 (45.40 per cent) have been metered compared to 42.93 per cent metering as at September 2021.”

It, however, stated that as a safeguard against overbilling of unmetered customers via estimation, the commission had set maximum limits to the amount of energy (energy caps in kWh) that might be billed to unmetered customers.

“The cap for each customer is set based on the customer category, consumption of metered customers on the same feeder and the customer’s tariff band.” the NERC stated.

It added, “The caps are computed based on three-month data of actual consumption records of metered customers on the same feeder.”

On customer complaints, the regulator stated that in 2021/Q4, cumulatively, the Discos received 222,639 complaints from consumers, as this was 24,479 (-9.91 per cent) less complaints than those received in 2021/Q3.

“In total, the Discos resolved 212,382 complaints corresponding to a 95.39 per cent resolution rate. Metering, billing, and service interruption were the prevalent sources of customer complaints, accounting for 58.83 per cent of the total complaints during the quarter,” it stated.

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Business

Ethiopian Airlines Wins Bid For Nigeria Air

The Federal Government has selected the Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Consortium as preferred bidder for Nigeria Air.

Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika disclosed this in a media briefing on Friday in Abuja.

He said ET scored 89 percent out of 100 as regards the technical bid and 15 out 20 as regards financial bid.

Mr Sirika said the Request for Proposal (RFP) under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Act, governed by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission(ICRC) regarding the Nigeria Air was now completed.

He said, “After a careful, detailed and ICRC governed selection process, Ethiopian Airlines (ET) Consortium has been selected as preferred bidder, offering an owner consortium of 3 Nigerian investors.

“The Nigerian investors are MRS, SAHCO and the Nigerian Sovereign Fund (46%), FGN owning 5% and ET 49%. The consortium has been subject to a due diligence process.

“The contract will be negotiated between consortium and FGN leading to a Full Business Case (FBC) which will be expected to be approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC). We expect this process to take 6-8 weeks.”

The minister said the national carrier would be launched with three Boeing 737-800 in a configuration very suitable for the Nigerian market.

Mr Sirika said Nigeria Air will be launched with a shuttle service between Abuja and Lagos to establish a new comfortable, reliable and affordable travel between the two major Nigerian Airports.

“The first aircraft is ready to arrive in Abuja for the further work and NCAA inspection, demo flights and audit as part of the AOC requirements.

“In time, two others will arrive to complete the required three aircraft for a new AOC holder. The interim executive team has prepared, with the support of FAAN.

“The team has arranged for Terminal C at the Abuja Airport and finalised a contract with MMA 2 terminal in Lagos, for the operation of an initial shuttle between Lagos and Abuja,” he said.

The Operations Control Centre (OCC) at the Abuja Airport would act as Headquarters of the airline.

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