CBN, SEC sanction five banks over forex offence, money laundering

CBN, SEC sanction five banks over forex offence, money laundering

The Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission have sanctioned five major banks for committing over 20 various infractions, including the violation of foreign exchange market and anti-money laundering regulations.

The banks are Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Access Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

The five lenders reported a combined fine of N1.46bn, according to the half-year 2021 financial results filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In line with regulatory rules, banks are required to include sanctions and fine imposed on them by regulatory agencies in their audited financial reports.

Among the five lenders, GTCO got the highest fine, running to over half a billion naira.

Specifically, the CBN fined GTCO N692m for violating its rules on certain forex transactions carried out by some betting and gaming companies. The tier-1 lender was also fined N2m for non-refund of interest on debit of non-interest-related charges imposed on non-funded accounts.

UBA was fined the sum of N273m for only two market infractions. It was fined N260m for forex documentation lapses in respect of some customers’ accounts. The regulator also asked the lender to pay N13m for non-verification of a customer identity and delay in filing the related transaction report

The CBN and SEC imposed the sum of N233m on Stanbic IBTC Holdings in the period under the review, according to the filing.

The lender was fined N230m for an alleged contravention of extant forex regulations from January 2013 to July 2020.

It was also fined N1m for administrative infractions in the Retirement Savings Account transfer during the fourth quarter of 2020.

Stanbic IBTC, in its audited half-year ended June 30, 2021 results, said, “Penalty imposed by the CBN following an alleged unfair termination of employment of former employee: The CBN imposed a penalty of N2m on the bank following an alleged unfair termination of employment of a former employee, whose employment was terminated for being unable to meet the performance criteria required to confirm his employment in line with policy.”

Access Bank reported N189.65m fine in the period under review. The CBN imposed N100m fine on the bank in respect of failure to comply with its guidelines on Diaspora remittances.

Other fines imposed on Access Bank by the CBN and SEC include the sum of N2.9m in respect of delayed response to the queries of the SEC on cases with two customers and N2m in respect of the violation of CBN’s directive on migration of some accounts to a specified product.

The lender was further fined N80m for contravening the CBN’s forex regulations between January 1, 2013 and July 31, 2020. It was also fined N0.5m by SEC for contravening the regulator rule for receiving bank.

The apex capital market regulating body further asked Access Bank to pay N0.5m as fine in respect of a shareholder’s complaint on dividend. The CBN also imposed N2m on the lender in respect of a consumer protection report for the period from July to December 2020.

In addition, Access Bank was fined N2.25m for allegedly failing to comply with the CBN’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing regulations and Know-Your-Customer policies in respect of a customer’s account.

Fidelity Bank recorded a fine of N65.15m during the first half of 2021 for committing five market infractions.

The CBN fined the lender N60m for committing forex trade infraction and N2m for another forex infraction as well as penalty for risk-based supervision for the period 2018/2019.

SEC also fined Fidelity Bank the sum of N1.13m for late filing of its December 31, 2020 audited financial statements. The lender was also fined N25,000 for filing its returns late with the CBN.

The lender was also fined the sum of N414.5m in the previous half year for committing four infractions, including forex, trade and Open Market Operations violations.

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