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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 Airways grounds aircraft, apologises for hitch

British Airways has grounded its aircraft at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Ikeja, due to a technical fault.

The airline has, however, apologised for the flight disruption.

The airline’s Regional Commercial Manager, Nigeria and Ghana, Mrs Tutu Otuyalo, told journalists on Friday that the carrier had apologised to passengers.

She said that the airline would  take up the costs of accommodation and meals for affected passengers.

Otuyalo said that the majority of passengers had been accommodated on other flights, while the carrier’s team continued to work hard to book the remaining customers on a flight as soon as possible.

“We will cover accommodation and meal costs for the customers.

“We would never operate a flight unless it is safe to do so. Most of the affected passengers have been re-accommodated to other flights.

”We have been in contact with our customers to apologise for the delay in their flight caused by a technical issue with the aircraft,” she said.

Some of the affected passengers have been endorsed on available carriers such as Virgin Atlantic and Delta Airlines.

Recall that British Airways flight number BA 74, which was scheduled to depart  Lagos for Heathrow, London, at 10.50 p.m. on Wednesday,  suffered a hitch as the scheduled aircraft developed a technical problem.

The flight was rescheduled and later cancelled due to the technical problem.

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NERC approves N21b for purchase of meters

Govt directs electricity companies to charge Nigerians per hour

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has announced the approval of N21 billion for 11 electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) to provide meters for customers.

This announcement was made in NERC’s ORDER NO: NERC/2024/072 on The Operationalisation of “Tranche A” of the Presidential Metering Initiative Under the Framework of Meter Acquisition Fund.

”The order signed by NERC Chairman, Mr Sanusi Garba and Commissioner Legal,  Dafe Akpeneye, shall become effective from June 2024 and may be amended or revoked by subsequent orders issued by the commission.

“The commission hereby approves the  sum of N21 billion apportioned pro rata to contribution by the DisCos as Tranche A of the MAF scheme.

”Attached to this order as Schedule 1 is a breakdown of the funds available for each DisCo for the purchase of end-use customer meters.

”All the meters to be procured and installed under the MAF framework shall be at no cost to the customers of the DisCos,” it said.

According to NERC, it introduced the Meter Asset Provider (“MAP”) Regulations 2018 and subsequently, the Meter Asset Provider and National Mass Metering (“MAP&NMMR”) Regulations in 2021 to address metering challenges in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (“NESI“).

NERC said that the regulations provided several options for metering end-use customers but the interventions, though significant, had not resulted in the closure of the national metering gap which currently stood in excess of seven million customers.

”The inability of distribution companies (DisCos) to raise financing in the form of debt or additional equity was identified as the major constraint in the acquisition and deployment of end-use meters and other capital investments.

”The Meter Acquisition Fund (MAF) scheme was therefore, developed and approved by the commission, primarily to address the challenges of DisCos creditworthiness inhibiting the deployment of end-use meter in NESI.

”By creating a credible revenue stream from the market funds on the back of which long term financing may be secured by the utilities,” it said.

NERC said that the management of Fund Manager (FM) based on terms and conditions, negotiated by the DisCos and approved by the commission.

According to the commission, the federal government approved the Presidential Metering Initiative (PMI) with the overarching objective of closing the metering gap in the NESI within three years leveraging on smart metering technologies for data analytics.

The MAF shall form one of the revenue streams for the repayment of the long tenor financing for metering.

The order also revealed that the commission approved the deregulation of meter prices under the MAP scheme vide Order NERC/2024/040 to ensure an efficient pricing of meters while responding more quickly to changes in macroeconomic parameters.

“The order provides that all prices of meters under the MAP scheme shall be determined through a transparent and competitive bidding process by eligible MAPs.

“A competitive bidding process was held on  May 21, 2024 based on the provisions of Order NERC/2024/040 where a total of 24 ( MAPs participated across the 12 DisCos.

”A total of 44 bids were submitted for 10meters specifications,” it said.

NERC said the deployment of funds under the MAF scheme would accelerate the deployment of meters and a closure of the current metering gap.

”Thereby reducing commercial and collection losses to DisCos, enhancing quality of service and improvement of customer satisfaction,” it said.

NERC also noted that while the NESI is expected to leverage on the revenue stream under the MAF framework to raise substantial capital funding for metering, there was an imperative to accelerate a closure of the metering gap for all customers.

”Currently classified under tariff Band A for the purpose of revenue protection and facilitating demand side management for the affected customers.”

NERC said that the DisCos should utilise the first tranche (Tranche A) of disbursement from the MAF scheme based on contributions made by DisCos as at the April 2024 markets settlement.

It said that attached to this order as Schedule 1 was to procure and install meters for unmetered Band ‘A’ customers within their franchise areas.

The commission said DisCos shall, within 14  days from the effective date of the order, conduct a transparent and competitive procurement process, for meter price determination, selection and engagement of MAPs/LMMAs for the metering of end-use customer meters under the MAF scheme.

”The order also directed that a report containing details of the process undertaken for the selection of MAPs/LMMAs including meter price, meter specifications.

”And the list of customers to be metered shall be sent to the commission for approval, within 20 days from the effective date of this Order.

” Upon approval of the commission, the DisCo shall enter into contracts with selected MAPs/LMMAs on one of the following terms,”it said.

The commission said that where an Advance Payment Guarantee (APG) issued by a commercial bank in the country is provided by a qualifying MAP/LMMA, 30 per cent of the contract sum shall be paid by the FM on behalf of the DisCo to the MAP/LMMA.

” Upon execution of the contract. A further two milestone payments shall be made upon the completion of 60 per cent of contracted quantities and 100 per cent of the contract respectively, with the funds advanced against bank guarantee amortized over the payments.

“Where the MAP/LMMA do not request an advance payment, the milestone payments shall be made upon the verified installation of 20, 60 and 100 per cent respectively of the contracted volume of meters.

”A vendor may, at his option, defer payment until the completion of the installation of the contracted volumes.

“DisCos shall ensure that all the necessary resources and network clearance required by the MAP/LMMA to install meters based on installation plans are provided and/or completed,” it said.

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Nigeria’s public debt now N121trn – Debt Management Office

exchange rate

The Debt Management Office (DMO) says Nigeria’s total public debt has reached N121.67 trillion within three months.

The Cable reports that this figure represents an increase of N24.33 trillion or 24.99 percent from the N97.34 trillion as of December 2023.

Nigeria’s public debt profile consists of the federal and subnational governments’ domestic and external debt stocks — the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

According to the DMO, the increase was primarily due to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly fund the deficit in the 2024 budget as well as disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders.

“Total domestic debt was N65.65 trillion (USD46.29 billion) while total external debt was N56.02 trillion (USD42.12 billion). Excluding naira exchange rate movements in Q1 2024, only the domestic debt component of total public debt grew from N59.12 trillion on December 31, 2023, to N65.65 trillion on March 31, 2024.

“The increase was from new borrowing to part-finance the 2024 Budget deficit and securitization of a portion of the N7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

“Whilst borrowing, as provided in the 2024 Appropriation Act, will continue, we expect improvements in the government’s revenue to enhance debt sustainability.”

On June 13, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, announced the approval of two major “financial support packages” by the World Bank — valued at $2.25 billion. In May, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said the federal government has secured a $500m World Bank loan to boost electricity distribution in the country.

Prior to this, the federal government had received $750 million from the World Bank for humanitarian and social reforms and $1.5 billion for its economic stabilisation plan.

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