Uche Usim, Abuja
As campaigns for the 2019 general elections gather momentum, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Thursday, warned Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) not to succumb to the temptation of lending without conducting sufficient risk assessments or violating the Money Laundering Act.
This was as the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the apex bank retained all economic parameters; with the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) pegged at 14 per cent.
The Cash Reserves Ratio (CRR) remained unchanged at 22.5 per cent; liquidity at 30 per cent and Asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.
Speaking at the last MPC meeting for 2018 held in Abuja, the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, said unpalatable consequences await defaulting banks over careless lending to politicians and other violations.
According to him, CBN met recently with all the chief executives of banks where the advice was handed down to them.
He said: “We have had meetings with the banks and we have told them to be wary. Money laundering issue may arise and we have advised them to be very careful on that. I believe they will be careful because they have been told that if they are caught on money laundry, they will be heavily penalised.”
On lending to politicians, he said, “of course, when you say banks lending to politicians, banks have their acceptance criteria and I don’t think that banks will do that at this time. Everybody must have learnt their lessons and I believe the right thing for everybody is to conduct their business carefully.
But we as Central Bank, we are staying behind and watching to make sure that when things go wrong or about to go wrong we will deal with it appropriately,” Emefiele noted.
On the lingering MTN foreign exchange repatriation saga, the CBN boss said the matter was almost totally resolved in an equitable and amicable manner for the benefit of all parties. He stated: “It is better for you to be slow in taking some of these decisions and when you take them you know that they are potent and rational for those decisions.”
“We were rational for the decisions we took because there were certain documents we expected to be submitted, those documents are now being submitted. We have held meetings with the MTN Group from South Africa and we are at the verge of announcing the resolution.
“I am very certain that we have reached the end of the road on this issue and I will continue to say that the sanctity of the CCI issued by our banks remain sacrosanct and no other company is being investigated on the issue of CCI, no other person is being investigated on the issue of CCI.
This is an isolated matter and I will also say that we have foreign investors in Nigeria like Nigerian Breweries, Guinness and lots of foreign investors who have been carrying out their businesses for over fifty years and they have conducted their businesses in a way that we instructed and that is why there have not been issues”, he added.
On external threats and the plans of the CBN to cushion any likely eventualities, the CBN Governor said that Nigeria will rise to the occasion, even as he recalled that the country has been able to withstand periodic shocks and very minimal loss in reserves.