CBN Hammer Dangles On Banks Over Counterfeit Notes

By Stephen Ubanna

Officials of Commercial Banks  in the country who have been feeding fat over the years from counterfeit notes   are in trouble. This is because Godwin Emefiele,  governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN,   appears to have beamed his searchlight on their operations over the use of counterfeit notes despite repeated warnings to stop it.

The Bank officials knew that they are in for trouble when   Folashodun Shonubi, the Bank governor,  Currency Operations  at the instance the instance of  Emefiele,  the  governor  made known  its observations  about the incidences  of counterfeit  notes  being paid through  some Deposit Money Banks, DMBs, Automated Teller Machine , ATM,  Tellerpoints  public.

 The CBN, officials had expected the operating Commercial  Banks in the country  to stop the  finance abuse but no luck. They are  Access Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc,  First City  Monument Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Plc,  Guaranty Trust  Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc,, United Bank of Nigeria PLC, and Zenith Bank Plc. This is in addition to the following foreign Banks with CBN authorisation to operate to operate in the country:  Citibank Nig. ltd, Eco Bank Nigeria Plc, Heritage Banking limited,  Keystone Bank limited,  Polaris Bank limited, successor to Skye Bank Plc,  Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc, Standard Chartered, and  Sterling Bank.Shonubi, the CBN, deputy governor,  revealed that virtually all the Banks are guilty of the  counterfeit note offence.   She  noted that despite repeated moral suasions  to the Banks to stop the mess, the situation has continued unabated.

 Investigation by The Value News shows  that the  apex Bank  had given the Banks the  nod to destroy the mutilated notes in their Bank branches but that was how far it could.   It was said to have gone a step further in Collaborating   with key  currency management stakeholders  such  as  DMBs,  manufacturers of currency  management equipment,  currency transportation, processing companies, security agencies and the general public  . She noted that the essence  was  to develop   Banknote  fitness guidelines  and Clean Note Policy documents  for the nation’s Banking Industry  to address the Counterfeit Note problem   but not much appeared to have been achieved.

Perhaps, to force the  Commercial Banks  cue into the  apex Bank policy to  stop the  use of Counterfeit Notes  in the country, the Bank  Management were said to have approved   Spots  checks  on  the DMBs’ ATMSs and Teller points to  watch over  them.   The Bank was said to have approved  a one million naira penalty   for any branch of the DMBs  caught in the act. The Bank may have considered the  measures put in place by the CBN , to stop the Counterfeited Notes  rumour i as laughable, insisting that the  former  apex Bank’s top official  claim  that over  20 percent  of the local Currency  in circulation are  counterfeited was false.

  The DMBs may have  challenged the CBN officials to come out  with empirical evidence  suggesting that   20 percent  of the naira in circulation in the country   was fake, thus forcing the Bank to quickly launch the two  policy documents  which had been in offing since last January  which had  given it the  legal backing to enforce  the policies  to ensure Compliance by the DMBs. Isaac Okorafor,  the CBN acting Director of  Corporate Communications may have assured Nigerians that that they have  no reason to worry about Counterfeited Notes  as the Bank ”frowns strongly at Counterfeiting the naira.  He maintained that the Emefiele  led CBN, remain committed to safeguarding  the ”value of the naira  by ensuring that  the country bank notes  are not susceptible to Counterfeiting”.

The CBN may have sent a signal to the Banks that it would no longer pay lip service to the war against  Counterfeited and mutilated notes in the country. On Thursday, May 2, 2019,   Okoroafor,  the  apex Bank Spokesperson   re-echoed  its decision to ”impose stiff sanctions  on Commercial Banks   and individuals  that dispense mutilated and Counterfeited  naira notes.

Tony Elumelu : Chairman, UBA

Appealing to  private  companies to increase their participation in the currency  management value chain, the CBN, Image maker disclosed that it is one of the safest measures  to enhance   Clean Currency policy”. 

For the first time,  the CBN,management  appears to be serious in giving value to the country’s currency  by empowering  the  Branch Comptrollers across the country  to work closely  with the security agencies   personnel in their respective  states of operation  to ensure that cases of Currency mutilation  and Couterfeit are reduced to the barest minimum.

The CBN acting Director of Corporate Communication who could not hide his feelings    stressed   bank  notes  remain  ”important for  payments and settlement of  commercial transactions  in the country”. it is therefore not very surprising why   Emefiele and his management team   have moved to shore up the value of the naira by restoring its  integrity   and public confidence in it.

  Given that the BN officials cannot be everywhere, the CBN , Image maker has urged  Nigerians to be the eye and ear of the  Bank and endeavour to  report any of the bank branches flouting  the Clean c Currency policy  and guidelines  for quick actions to  be taken and the branch sanctioned .

According to him the duty of the banks are to return  mutilated  and Counterfeit notes to  the apex Bank  for destruction  in exchange for clean notes.  He disclosed that  the cost  of currency management  and minting  by the Bank is enormous  and therefore the need to ensure that only clean  currency notes are in circulation. The leading Commercial Banks in the country UBA, Zenith, Access, GTB, First Bank and Stanbic IBTC appear to have cue into the CBN  clean currency policy despite claims the CBN  claims that virtually all the DMBs are guilty of the counterfeited and mutilated currency crime.

 Tony Elumelu, Chairman, UBA, would not want to hear that the Bank is still dispensing mutilated naira notes in any of its branches. he was said to have put in a word to Kennedy Uzoka , the Bank Group  Managing Director to ensure that  the Bank  abide  with the CBN  clean currency policy without further delay. The Bank brabch mangers were said to have cued into the policy to avoid being sanctioned to pay the N one million naira fine. The situation was the same in Zenith  and other notable DMBs branches across the country.  

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