Reps To Probe CBN For Sale Of $1bn Forex
The House of Representatives Ad hoc Committee on the Reduction of Petrol Prices has summoned Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele, over alleged irregularities in the sale of $1billion foreign exchange (forex) last year.
The CBN chief is also to explain how International Oil Companies (IOCs) got the powers to act as finance houses that sell forex to major oil importers as well as to the CBN.
The committee, headed by Hon. Nnanna Igbokwe, is probing the sale of $1billion in June, last year by the apex bank, because in the preceding months, it sold far below such figure and thereafter ceded sale of forex to IOCs.
Director, Financial Markets Department at the CBN, Mr. Alvan Ikokun, surprised the committee members when he said IOCs had been selling forex to major oil marketers and the CBN.
Ikokun, answering questions, said the CBN does not monitor the transaction that takes place between the marketers and IOCs and knew nothing about the agreement between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and IOCs.
The committee asked: “Which CBN laws and financial regulations allow IOCs to trade foreign exchange to importers and dealers, as well as the CBN?”
Ikokun declined to answer the question but said: “Our legal counsel will answer that.” According to him, everything was done with the authorisation of the management.
Igbokwe said: “The $1 billion allocation which was sold to importers and marketers by CBN records came up in June. Between July, August, September, October and November 2016, they didn’t make sales. They now started in December and made sales of $372 million.
“The explanation by CBN was that they relaxed the rules in June. In June it shot up to $1 billion and this is where we wanted to get clarification.
“The figures they presented was just showing a summary of all allocations to importers of petroleum products and we’re insisting that they should dissect it and present a detailed schedule of all importers that have received foreign exchange.”
According to him, the CBN had been invited to the hearing because most of the importers and marketers of petroleum products, especially petrol “ had alluded to the claim that they had difficulties in assessing forex to be able to import the products.”
The committee thereafter summoned Emefiele to its next sitting to come with the details of the petroleum products dealers allocated forex from January 2015 till date, all dealers allocations and the banks they passed through; the criteria to assess forex and all relevant documents to support the transactions.
Also speaking before the committee, Director, Marine Services, Naval Headquarters, Commodore Preston Efedua, said its the multiplicity of charges that is responsible for ships preferring Lome to Lagos for offloading their products.
According to him, the Navy does not charge any fees for its role in checking and clearing the incoming vessels, adding that the collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Safety Administration Agency (NIMASA) is yielding dividend in terms of security.
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