By Seth Apati (auth.)
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Extra resources for The Nigerian Banking Sector Reforms: Power and Politics
Without prejudice to the innocence or guilt of the parties involved, the case afforded the CBN the opportunity to understand the process by which commercial banks transacted foreign exchange business in Nigeria – a process they had been unaware of, or had simply turned a blind eye to. Following detailed investigations, the CBN suspended 21 of the 95 banks from the foreign exchange market in April 2001 for allegedly engaging in foreign exchange malpractices, which included 34 The Nigerian Banking Sector Reforms inter-bank ‘round-tripping’.
Corruption had several ways of artificially bloating the income and profitability of the Nigerian banking sector. The first was that corrupt money often had to be laundered through several transactions, as compared with, say, a single direct-wire transfer for remittance of legitimate funds. For each transaction, the bank imposed charges, thereby bloating the bank’s income from multiple or repeated transaction fees. The second was that corruption often goes hand in hand with ‘settling’, ‘motivating’, ‘gratifying’ or ‘compensating’ the bankers who ‘facilitate’ the transaction, inadvertently creating a crop of wealthy bankers who were largely benefactors of an opaque payments system.
SFEM changed all that. SFEM was the second-tier foreign exchange market. The Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous Provision) Decree No. 17 of 1995 fully established the autonomous foreign exchange market (AFEM) and repealed the Exchange Control Act of 1962 and the Exchange Control (Anti-Sabotage) Decree 19. The new decree also allowed foreign investors to repatriate their capital, profits or dividends – less tax – and to open domiciliary accounts. In 1997 and 1998, the exchange rate system was further liberalized and a dual mechanism was instituted.