· Association says no speculator or street hawker will be allowed to perpetuate
illegal exchange rate practices
Following the not-so-long-ago warning issued by the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) to market speculators stating that the apex bank still boasts of its financial muscles to defend the naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-licenced Bureaux De Change (BDC) operators have declared operational war against exchange speculators and black market dealers distorting the naira rate of exchange against the dollar and other global currencies.
In what seems to be a set battle, Alhaji (Dr) Aminu Gwadabe, ABCON President, while speaking during a virtual meeting with members across all the six geo-political zones in Nigeria and under the umbrella body of ABCON, and monitored by Business A.M, said the BDCs won’t allow forex speculators and street hawkers to take over the business of the BDCs in Nigeria through their illegal practices.
The ABCON boss, who spoke on the theme: “ABCON Sensitisation Against Volatility within the Exchange Rate”, with the event held simultaneously in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, Onitsha, Benin, among others, and had in attendance over 5,000 BDCs, said licensed BDCs will still defend the naira through regulatory compliance and constantly supporting the Nigerian central bank to realize a stable rate of exchange and attract forex into the economy, and citing that the sensitization programme will upscale BDCs’ compliance with the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT).
Gwadabe said: “Now is the time to support the CBN to achieve a stable exchange rate. Do not allow forex speculators, street hawkers to take over our business. Constantly comply with CBN’s regulations on the rendition of returns and corporate governance practices because aside from helping in stabilizing the naira, the CBN examiners can visit your offices and defaulting members will be sanctioned”.
According to him, members are often spot-checked by the CBN examiners at any time and will therefore put in necessary measures to align with the regulatory policies.
“Be vigilant in your operations because you can be spot-checked by the CBN examiners at any
time. All BDCs should appoint Compliance Officers and Data Protection Officers as directed by
the CBN which is also in-line with the global best practices. Also, avoid sending your returns
late, selling dollar above CBN approved rate,” he advised.
Gwadabe whispered out that by following set rules, the operators will set an honest example in their operational modalities and make forex buyers lose confidence in the black market dealers, citing that every BDC operator needs full knowledge and understanding of the way to raise and submit both the Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) and Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) to regulators, understand the requirement of registering and filing reports on the NFIU go AML -Anti-Money Laundering portal and proper documentation of all forex sales.
He also said that all BDCs should file their reports as and at when due on weekly basis to Nigerian
Financial Intelligence Unit, and CBN and also Economic and Financial Crimes Commission also
as Know Your Customer (KYC) and due diligence reports.
He further recalled that the digitization of BDCs operations remained a priority for ABCON management; and that the digitization vision was realized with the official launch and take off of the ABCON Live Run Automation Portal. The project, which has the support of the Central Bank of Nigeria ended the decades of manual filling of regulatory reports by BDCs, and enhances the global competitiveness of operators and raises hope of a higher transaction margin.
“We believe that the full digitization of BDCs operations is a boost for financial system stability and Nigeria’s standing on the regular Financial Action Task Force (FATF) assessment for Nigeria,” he said.
The portal, which may be a game changer within the Nigerian BDC Industry is that the final phase of automating all BDCs operations and integrating them with the operations of CBN, NFIU and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) for improved compliance with regulation and seamless operations.
Gwadabe said that ABCON is committed to the regulatory compliance of its members and has consistently educated them on the risks of cash laundering and terrorist financing to their businesses and economy; while also disclosing that ABCON council under his leadership will still promote transparency and efficient market dealings among BDCs for the sustained rate of exchange and economic stability.