The Governor,Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has on Tuesday insisted that the strategic health of the Nigerian banking industry remains sound.
Emefiele stated this in Abuja on Tuesday, while giving updates on the issues surrounding the recent liquidation of Skye bank PLC which is now Polaris Bank, as well as the telecommunications network MTN and the four banks involved.
Speaking on the effect of the MTN issue on foreign investors, he emphatically stated that the sanctity of the Certificate of Capital Importation (CCI) remains sacrosanct, adding that the CCI has been migrated into electronic (e-CCI), indicating the level of transparency on the subject.
“We will respect CCIs but again it is important that people should ensure to do what what is right, as much as possible, obey the extant laws and foreign exchange regulations of Nigeria”, he said.
Giving update on the MTN transaction, he said that the $8.1 billion the CBN is asking the telecom company to refund, is dollar equivalent of MTNs naira generated from their profit, adding that the CBN is asking MTN to return the money, to ensure that there is a reversal of that transaction, as it was not finally authorized by the apex Bank.
“Because those funds moved through these four banks, the quantum of dollars that passed through the bank was what we said the company needed to remit back to CBN through the banks. It didn’t mean that these were the banks’ obligations” he said.
On the way forward, he announced that the CBN, “will go through the pain again to invite the banks and invite MTN to prove their case because it is just normal that we should allow this company and the banks to clear themselves. That is what we are doing and I believe in due course, we should make a final call on this subject.
“I am very optimistic we will resolve the matter and I believe that every body will be happy. MTN will be happy, the banks will be happy, CBN and government would be happy” Emefiele emphasized.
Meanwhile, Emefiele while expatiating on the reason for the liquidation of Skye Bank, stressed that the apex Bank is working to ensure that every chain in the banking sector is strong, adding also that in areas where there are weaknesses,it will do everything possible to ensure linkages.
“I would love to see a situation where banks are not liquidated, that we will have to think outside the box to see to how we can ensure that we have more banks in the country rather than have less number of banks and that is what we are doing.
“We will try just as we have done in the case of depositors to make sure that the small invinvestors remain protected under some arrangement, but their holdings will be substantially whittled down” Emefiele remarked.
On the name change, he said it was necessary for legal reasons. “Having gotten to a point where the Central Bank of Nigeria and government has invested close to 800 billion in this bank, at some point, it must be seen to be owned by the CBN, until we find investors that can pay a fair value, a fair price for this enterprise”.
He stressed that the insinuation that the company was not registered, is false; stating however, that the company was first registered as a Limited Liability Company few weeks ago and was registered as a bank, a day before the action was taken.
According to him, “I have seen some of the documentations that people were banding around because they went on the internet to check whether the company is registered. It is important for us to note that servers may not indeed be updated, but it doesn’t mean that this bank was not incorporated.
“We should just ignore those kinds of sentiments and focus on the real issues which has to do with that, we are embarking on a journey to keep a bank alive, to protect depositors’ monies and also ensure that we don’t throw over 5000 staff of that bank into the labour market”, he stated.