CBN directs banks to close naira accounts of money transfer operators

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has instructed deposit money banks (DMBs) to close all naira accounts of international money transfer operators (IMTOs).

The directive was contained in a circular released on Friday and jointly signed by Bello Hassan, CBN’s director of banking supervision; and Musa Jimoh, the bank’s director of payments system management.

“DMBs are to close all naira accounts for IMTOs. This is to ensure that diaspora remittances are received by beneficiaries in foreign currency only (cash and/or transfers to domiciliary accounts of recipients),” the circular read.

“DMBs are permitted to open new Opex accounts for the purpose of the IMTO operations, such as salary payments and other operating expenses excluding diaspora remittance receipts.

“DMBs must ensure that proper audit of IMTO accounts is done to forestall further use of naira accounts for diaspora remittances purposes.”

To deepen foreign exchange liquidity, the CBN had specified that beneficiaries of diaspora remittances through IMTOs would receive their proceeds in foreign currency (US dollar) through the bank of their choice.

Then, they have the option of receiving the funds in foreign currency cash (US Dollar) or deposited into their domiciliary account.

In a circular on Wednesday, the apex bank had cautioned IMTOs who continue to pay remittances in local currency (naira).

It added that violators could lose their operational licences if they persist in disobeying the directive.