CBN Cautions Against Diaspora Remittances In Naira 

…Threatens Serious Sanctions

Yemisi Izuora

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has frowned at the continued diaspora remittances into the country in Naira, instead of dollars, by International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) and unlicensed companies, contrary to its directives.

Dr O.S. Nnaji, Director Trade and Exchange Department of the bank, said in a circular, on Friday, that the action contravened the apex bank’s directive that all remittances be paid to beneficiaries in dollars.

The circular, entitled, “Modalities For Payout of Diaspora Remittances”, was posted on the CBN website on Friday.

” Further to our circular titled” Receipt of Diaspora Remittances: Additional Operational Guidelines “, it has come to our notice that some IMTOs and unlicensed companies continue to facilitate diaspora remittances into the country in Naira, “in clear contravention of the Central Bank of Nigeria directive that all remittances be paid to beneficiaries in dollars,” it said.

The circular clarified that only licensed IMTOs were permitted to carry on the business of facilitating Diaspora remittances into Nigeria, stressing that all diaspora remittances must be received by beneficiaries in foreign currency only, whether via cash and/or transfers to domiciliary accounts of recipients.

The CBN said: 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 directed to closed, third party accounts or via any other payment platforms within and/or around the Nigeran financial system.

It said that the measures were intended to promote transparency, grow diaspora remittances and significantly improve foreign exchange inflows into Nigeria.

The bank said that 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 said it shall not hesitate to authorize the closure of their accounts in Nigerian banks, including being barred from accessing banking services in Nigeria.

It promised continued monitoring of developments in this regard, adding that it would also issue further guidance as appropriate.

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