UBA Plc returns to the foreign exchange market today.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) gave the all-clear to the bank to resume trading in a statement signed by the Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs Tokunbo Martins in Abuja on Wednesday.
According to Martins, UBA had returned all outstanding unremitted Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation/Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NNPC/NLNG) foreign currency in its possession.
“Further to the directive of the CBN to all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) to return all outstanding unremitted NNPC/NLNG foreign currency, this is to confirm that UBA has remitted all outstanding NNPC/NLNG deposits in its possession to NNPC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) at the CBN.’’
The CBN had on Tuesday barred nine DMBs from the nation’s foreign exchange market for failing to remit the sum of 2.3 billion dollars belonging to NNPC to the TSA.
But in a swift reaction, the UBA denied holding on to its share of $530million. The bank in a statement said it had completely remitted all NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits.
On Tuesday, the CBN announced the suspension of UBA and eight other banks from all foreign exchange transactions until they remitted into the TSA $2.1 billion in various NNPC/NLNG accounts in the banks as ordered by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.
With the UBA Plc acquitting itself, First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) now holds $469 million, the chunk of the $2.1billion fund.
Diamond Bank Plc. has ($287m); Sterling Bank Plc. ($269m); Sky Bank Plc. ($221m); Fidelity Bank ($209m); Keystone Bank ($139); First City Monument Bank (FCMB) $125m; and Heritage Bank ($85m).
The banks have pleaded for time to return the money, saying the CBN order poses systemic challenge to the industry.
They stated this in separate statements clarifying their positions on the suspension from the foreign exchange market transaction by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
FirstBank in a statement, said that the referenced NNPC dollar accounts were fully disclosed to the CBN.
It said that accounts were being operated in line with the regulatory requirements.
The bank also said that tripartite documented discussions had been ongoing between the CBN, NNPC and the bank on the need for domestic retention of those balances.
It said that was as part of measures to ameliorate challenges posed by the lack of FX availability, and customers’ inability to source FX to fund their trade finance obligations to the bank.
The bank reassured all its stakeholders that the issue was not a function of concealment or willful non-compliance by the bank.
“We are confident in our ability to meet and honour all our obligations as at when due and are currently in talks with the CBN and other relevant bodies and are positive of an amicable resolution soonest,” said the bank.
Also, Fidelity Bank said it had repaid over 288 million dollars of those funds in line with the advised repayment schedule.
“We will like to clarify that these deposits were duly reported to the CBN by Fidelity Bank in line with the extant TSA requirements
contrary to the erroneous view in certain media reports that the funds were concealed from the regulators.
“At the commencement of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in 2015, Fidelity bank advised NNPC and the regulators with a schedule of repayment for the NNPC/NLNG dividend dollar deposits.
“Please note that you can continue to operate your domiciliary account with Fidelity and this development will not affect your deposits/loans (local and foreign currency), remittances, transactional services and electronic banking services.
“Although the market condition remains quite challenging, we will continue to honour our obligations and operate with the highest level of corporate governance,’’ the bank said.
The bank said in the interim that it was engaging with the other eight banks involved, stakeholders and the regulators to resolve the issue quickly and ensure its return to the FX market.
Keystone Bank, also in a statement signed by the management, said it had engaged in efforts that were geared towards very timely resolution.
It said the bank understood the importance of sourcing foreign exchange for its customers’ needs to support economic growth.
The bank said that the development did not adversely affect customers’ existing transactions with it except that there would be constraints in establishing new letters of credit until the issue was resolved.
Meanwhile, Heritage Bank said that the CBN’s announcement of temporary suspension was a systemic challenge to the banking industry that cut across most banks.
It said that the bank would continue to treat forex transfer, remittance from domiciliary accounts, establishment of non-valid for FX form Ms and establishment of Letter of Credit (LoC) on the bank’s offshore lines.