THE Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has launched a massive investigation into foreign exchange transactions by 71 companies after preliminary reviews raised suspicions of possible infractions and contravention of extant foreign exchange laws and rules.
Sources close to the apex bank yesterday confirmed the investigation of many leading companies in key sectors of the economy including healthcare, food manufacturing, agriculture, oil and gas, energy, financial services and trading, among others.
This is the largest forex probe in recent period. The apex bank in August launched two separate investigations.
A source explained that the investigation was based on credible suspicion, although no conclusive indictment has been reached, against any of the companies.
The apex bank was said to be worried that rather than the companies patronising banks for their forex transactions, they opted for the black market.
In the light of the heightened security situation in the country, the apex bank was alarmed that recourse to black market by formal sector operators may be conduit for illegal transactions, including transmitting funds to terrorists, money laundering, under declaration and shortchanging of extant government rules and policies, among others.
A source said the apex bank was ready to clamp down on any company found to have contravened any of the extant laws and policies on forex.
The source explained that the companies are in two groups – those which specific forex accounts are being investigated and others which have all their accounts being investigated.
The companies under investigation include: Promasidor Nigeria Limited, Stallion Nigeria Limited, Bhojraj Nigeria Limited, Interswitch Nigeria Limited, Far East Mercantile Limited, Afrab Chem Limited, Multichem Industries Limited, Daraju Nigeria Limited, Dover Engineering Limited, BCL Trading Services Limited, Amarava Agro Limited, Shivlula Nigeria Limited, Deeplast Nigeria Limited, Givanas Industry Nigeria Limited, Godrej Nigeria Limited, Malok Nigeria Limited, Nagode Industries Limited, Prima Corporation Limited, Regal Chem Nigeria Limited, Vista International Limited, Budha Logistics Limited, Mitoch Global Link Ventures and Solem Agro Limited.
Others included Deekay & Sons Limited, Hana Nigeria Limited, Emel Nigeria Limited, Sonnex Nigeria Limited, Montana Nigeria Limited, Dasco Nigeria Limited, Savvy Corps Limited, Pan-Cat Nigeria Limited, Mustafa-Multipurpose Services, Olayfis Global Resources Limited, Pals Interchange Concept Limited, 2015 Petroleum & Investments Limited, Manann Nigeria Limited, Brollo Pipe & Profile Ind. Limited, Altrunk Nigeria Limited, Dartford Energy Services Limited, Global Links Ventures Limited, Elemental Integrated Associates, New Home Distribution (Africa), ACCI Ventures (Nig) Limited, John Kell & Associate Nigeria, Maaway Ventures Limited, Good Metal Enterprises, Medlog Logistics Services Limited and Beirut Hill Construction Limited.
Also being investigated are CMA CGM Nigeria Shipping Limited, Agrinexus International Limited, Sylvangel Maritime Resources Limited, Unimer SRL Limited, SCIB Nigeria & Company Limited, Domenik LLC, Petro-Afrique Energy Services, Silver Dome Enterprises Limited, Ajibola Bankole Adebutu, Petro-Afrique Energy Services Limited and Steel Force Far East Limited.
Others included Cavendish Mechanicals Limited, Aquashield Oil & Marine Limited, Haitch & Elf Integrated Services Limited, Fenog Nigeria Limited, Hatford Resources Nigeria Limited, Don & Chyke Nigeria Limited, Omniworx Export Enterprises, Stemcor London Trading Limited, Fix Nigeria Limited, SA Turutu International Ent, New Brand Metals Global Limited Ventures and Auto Petroleum Company Limited.
Faced with twin-shock of global crude oil decline and COVID-19 pandemic, the CBN has struggled to balance its developmental mandate with regulatory role of maintaining stability in the financial system.
Amid sustained forex pressure, the apex bank has battled global and national headwinds to ward off knee-jerk devaluation of naira. It had created the Investors & Exporters (I & E) window as an official window to attend to forex requirements of formal sector operators.
The apex bank in August secured a court order freezing the accounts of companies, which it alleged were behind forex volatility.
The CBN alleged that the companies were engaging in the importation of some items exempted from official foreign exchange and also manipulation of the forex market.
The apex bank said the companies were “the cause of the current volatility and imbalance in the foreign exchange regime in Nigeria with the attendant negative impact on the economy”.