Forex manipulations: CBN vows clampdown on AbokiFX, operator, patrons

The Central Bank of Nigeria has said that it will track the owner of Aboki FX, an online platform that gathers and displays parallel market rates in Nigeria, and stop the operations of the website in the country.

The Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, made this known after the two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja on Friday.

The apex bank governor said the owner of the website, a London-based Nigerian, Oniwinde Adedotun, has to explain how he obtains his rates.

This is based on the rate of the rise of the naira on the parallel market which is currently trading at N570/dollar.

He said, “On Aboki FX, yes unfortunately the Central Bank wrote a memo to banks and asked those banks to provide information about AbokiFX. We have been studying the activities of AbokiFX in the last two and half years.

“There was a particular time I called our colleagues to call the so-called owner of AbokiFX. We want to understand his model and the basis of how he came about advertising those rates.

“We found him as a Nigerian who lives in England and produces this nefarious and criminal activity on our economy. It is an economic sabotage and we will pursue him wherever he is.

“We will report him to international agencies; we will track him, Mr Oniwinde, we will find you because we cannot allow you to continue to conduct an illegal activity that kills our economy.

“For those who think they are smart and they want to continue to sabotage the efforts of the Central Bank in running this economy for the good of Nigerians and this government, we will make life very difficult for you.”

Emefiele said that the company was registered in the UK in November 2015, as he claimed there were other Nigerians who had significant interest in the business.

“But he does not want to name them. So, who are these significant persons behind him? Why are they hiding? This is on UK’s finding records and we will go there and conduct those investigations.

“Since the inception of this business, it has continued to file the same accounts to the UK Government. The Same 100 pounds cash at hand, that is its balance sheet and 100 pounds total net asset consecutively for four years.

He said in Nigeria, “He and the company have over 25 bank accounts with about eight banks in both naira and dollar with significant turnover also showing him simply milking the system through speculative activities on the naira and collecting his proceeds in cash through a particular ATM in London.”

He alleged that CBN preliminary findings revealed that AbokiFX was built for the purpose of foreign exchange manipulations and speculations.

“He gets naira notes and uses it to purchase dollars, take a position and change the rates over a given period, sell the dollars they purchased and make a profit. This is completely illegal; it is unacceptable and we will pursue them.”

The founder, Emefiele alleged, Oniwinde, is an illegal FX dealer who directly benefits from rates quoted daily on his website.

He explained that according to Section 2 of the CBN Act, the bank reserved the sole power to determine the value of the naira

“Other findings reveal that Mr Oniwinde, the owner of AbokiFX, is an illegal FX dealer. Between February 2020 and May, he has sold millions of naira in FX to several Nigerian companies and we will find those companies as well,” Emefiele said.

He added that the bank had given instructions to shut down the operations of Aboki FX website.

He said, “I have given instructions to our experts to go after his website and let it be clear that we will go after him, because we can’t allow this to continue.”

On ban of forex sales to Bureau the Change operators, Emefiele said that the bank would not go back on its previous stance.

According to him, these BDC operators sell foreign exchange to criminals who import weapons to harm Nigerians and promote different forms of terrorism.

The CBN boss said, “It truly beats my imagination that Nigerians continued with this type of practice (selling dollars to BDC) that tended to promote illegal activities who are involved in graft and corrupt practices.

“We won’t support the corrupt tendencies of those who illegally buy dollars from our forex market, carry them in aircraft, buy arms and ammunition and bring them back into the country and conduct crimes. Whether it is Boko Haram, banditry and other nefarious activities.”

“Why will CBN give people our forex to go and buy arms? And that is what people want us to continue to do. We cannot do that.”

He added that those who had any legitimate need for forex to go to the banks to make their transactions.

 …Retains lending rate at 11.5%

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has retained the Monetary Policy Rate at 11.5 per cent.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this after the committee’s two-day meeting in Abuja on Thursday.

It also retained the Cash Reserve Ratio and Liquidity Ratio at 27.5 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

Announcing the committee’s decision, Emefiele said, “The MPC made the decision to hold all parameters constant. The committee thought by unanimous vote to retain the Monetary Policy Rate at 11.5 per cent.

“In summary, MPC voted as follows: one, retain MPR at 11.5 per cent; retain the asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR; retain the CRR at 27.5 per cent; and retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.”

He said MPC weighed the effect of tightening or loosening, noting the impact on output growth and employment among others.

Members felt that tightening would contract the current level of system liquidity and thus reduce demand pressure on the forex market, he added.

However, abokiFX in a statement on its website on Friday titled ‘Temporary suspension of rate publication – Abokifx’, said “AbokiFX has taken the decision today, the 17th of September 2021, to temporarily suspend rate updates on all our platforms, until we get better clarity of the situation.

“Final rates have been posted this evening but the abokiFX news section and the crypto rates section will still be active.” PUNCH

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