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Zenith Bank leads other 7 in continued SMEs forex window after sack of 16 violators

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For keeping to the laid down due process in the administration of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) window of the foreign exchange market access, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has named Zenith Bank and seven others as only operators henceforth.

Others joining the bank include Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank, and Unity Bank.

Accordingly, the apex bank has suspended 16 others caught in the web of breaches and infractions based on barrage of complain and whistles blown to the hearing of the CBN.

Acting director, Corporate Communications Department of the CBN, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the decision to stop the banks from participating in the SME wholesale window of the forex market was taken following series of complaints that some of them were deliberately frustrating efforts by many SMEs to access forex from the window.

Business Hilights recalls that CBN had last month created the SME wholesale window to make it easier for small-scale businesses to access forex to import critical materials for their operations.

Explanations from a statement issued by the CBn showed that it based its decision on field reports, which averred that only eight banks had sold forex to the SMEs segment since the inception of the new window.

Additional details indicated that all the other 16 banks that had refused to sell forex to small businesses after accessing over $300m offered to the SMEs’ wholesale forex window since its creation last month would be sanctioned accordingly.

Banks currently restricted from the market segment include First City Monument Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Citibank, Ecobank Nigeria, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Keystone Bank Limited, Skye Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Union Bank Plc and Wema Bank Plc.

However, CBN noted that the suspension may be lifted immediately any of the affected banks showed evidence of significant utilisation of the funds allocated to them under the SME window.