By John Ikani
Deposit money banks in Nigeria have begun issuing warnings to their customers, noting that travelers who bought foreign exchange for travel purposes but failed to embark on the trip after two weeks of their scheduled travel date, must return the forex to the banks.
The banks in their notices also pointed out consequences for those customers who engage in fraudulent and unethical practices with regards to the purchase of Personal Travel Allowances (PTA) and Business Travel Allowances (BTA).
The development is in line with the directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which ordered that identities and Bank Verification Number (BVN) of those who contravene the apex bank’s new forex policy on overseas personal and business travels should be published.
Bank accounts of people involved in shady purchase of PTA/BTA may also be restricted under the crackdown.
What the banks were saying in the notices:
UBA, which moved to implement the CBN forex policy, encouraged its customers to adhere to all the apex bank guidelines as directed.
An e-mail sent by the bank reads, “In line with our promise to keep you up to date on policies that may affect you, please note that the CBN has directed all banks to publish a list of PTA/BTA defaulters on their website.
“Customers involved in fraudulent practices such as presenting fake visas or canceling airline tickets after receiving PTA/BTA and failing to return the funds received to the bank within two weeks will have their details published (name and BVN) on our website.”
Similarly, First Bank, in a message to its customers said, “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.
“We aim to implement this policy immediately as an organization that is fully compliant with the Central Bank of Nigeria’s rules and regulations.
“Our bank is committed to partnering with the CBN to ensure a transparent, efficient and stable FX Market that meets the needs of all legitimate users.”
What you should know
The directives were informed by observation that customers engage in fraudulent and unscrupulous practices to obtain foreign exchange from banks on their websites, a development which CBN Director, Banking Supervision Department, Mr. Haruna Mustafa, said presented a risk to the integrity and stability of the FX market if not curbed.