The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday barred 16 Deposit Money Banks from participating in the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises window of the foreign exchange market.
In a statement issued by its Acting Director, Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, the apex bank 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 the banks were deliberately frustrating efforts by SMEs to access forex from the window.
The SME wholesale window was created last month by the CBN to make it easier for small-scale businesses to access forex.
The CBN said in its statement that based on its investigations, only eight banks had sold forex to the SMEs segment since the inception of the new window.
It went on to say that only the eight banks would be allowed to access forex in that segment of the financial market henceforth.
The banks are Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank, Jaiz Bank, Sterling Bank, Unity Bank and Zenith Bank Plc.
The CBN said the 16 defaulting banks would be sanctioned accordingly.
Okorafor stated that the sanctions would be lifted immediately any of the affected banks showed evidence of significant utilization of the funds allocated to them under the SME window.
He urged all stakeholders to play by the rules for the benefit of the entire country and its economy.