The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed its intention to initiate investigations of bank accounts of companies involved in importation of the 41 banned items for possible violation of the policy on foreign exchange restriction on the affected items.

In a circular titled ‘Foreign Exchange Restriction on the importation of 42 items’ signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Ken Amogu, the apex bank stated that trade information available to it indicated circumvention of the policy as the restricted items were being dumped in the country.

Amogu noted that the implications of the abuses were that the growth and employment benefits arising from the policy may be eroded if not checked.

He stateed: “The CBN views this development with trepidation. The Economic Intelligence Unit of the bank in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would commence immediate investigation of the accounts of the corporate and entities engaged in this unwholesome act with a view to visiting severe sanctions on all culprits.

“Such sanctions would among others include blacklisting the corporate and their directors; closure of their bank accounts; and restricting them from maintaining any bank account in any bank under the CBN remit.

“Banks that provided their platforms for such economic abuses would also be appropriately sanctioned. Banks are by this notice advised on strict compliance with the Know Your Customer Business (KYC) and Know Your Customer Business (KYB) requirements and to be properly guided”, the banker added.

It would be recalled that the CBN had in 2015 issued a directive stopping the use of officially sourced forex for the importation of the 41 listed goods.

The monetary authorities however maintained that the items were not prohibited or banned from being imported into the country but that their importers would no longer qualify to access forex from the official windows to import these items.

Similarly, the CBN on Monday added fertilizer into the list of items banned from accessing forex through official window, thereby increasing the number of the affected items to 42.

The apex bank stated this in a circular titled ‘Re: Inclusion of some imported goods and services on list of items as ‘Not Valid for Foreign Exchange in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market’ issued by its Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Ahmed Umar.

The circular reads inter alia: “In the continued effort to sustain the achievement recorded from the classification of 41 items as ‘Not for valid for foreign exchange’ in the Nigerian foreign exchange market, authorised dealers and the general public are hereby notified of the inclusion of ‘fertiliser’ on the lists effective Friday, December 7, 2018.

“However, CBN will ensure that transactions (Form M) on fertiliser for which payments are outstanding are settled at the appropriate settlement dates”, it added.