Banks Panic Over TSA Violation Sanctions

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Indications emerged on Sunday that a significant number of the 19 commercial banks operating in the country had yet to fully adhere to the Treasury Single Account policy of the Federal Government.It was gathered that as a result, the bank are in a panic mode over possible sanctions by the Central Bank of Nigeria which was gathered was discussing with the Presidency to come up with appropriate punishment for the affected banks.

A media report (not The PUNCH) had emerged on Sunday that two prominent banks would face severe sanctions this week for violating the TSA policy.

One of the banks was reportedly withholding N37bn belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, while the other was said to have failed to remit N100bn NNPC fund to the TSA.

But a top official of a tier-1 bank close to the development said, “More banks are involved; a number of banks have yet to fully adhere to the TSA policy. Most of them are claiming ignorance, saying they are not clear about the government directive on the TSA policy.”

The official, who spoke under condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, added, “Times without number, the CBN had appealed to the banks to comply and remit the funds. So, the banks don’t really have an excuse. It appears that President Muhammadu Buhari’s government, through the CBN, may come heavily on these banks any moment from now.”

Banking sources said the affected banks were trying to hold on to a purported circular from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, which was said to have exempted the NNPC and 12 other government agencies from the TSA policy.

It was reported that of the several applications submitted by federal agencies for exemption, the OAGF only acceded to the requests of 13 agencies.

The agencies include the NNPC, Bank of Industry, Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Bank of Agriculture, Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Urban Development Bank, Nigerian Import-Export Bank, Ajaokuta Steel Company, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Railways Limited, National Integrated Power Project, and Galaxy Backbone.

Consequently, it was reported that the OAGF, through a circular dated September 14, 2015, to the Director, Banking and Payment Systems Department, CBN, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, requested that the affected agencies be exempted from making remittances to the TSA.

However, the Deputy Director, Media Unit, OAGF, Mrs. Nene Offie, had since refuted suggestions that any agency had been given exemption from the TSA, stating that the information was false.

“There are no exemptions,” she claimed.

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr. Ibrahim Mu’zu, could not be reached for immediate comments as of press time on Sunday.

Telephone calls made to his line were not picked and text message sent were not also responded to.

Independent findings by our correspondent showed that some of the affected banks might have deliberately violated the TSA policy for fear of losing their liquidity positions.

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