The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has uncovered a $2.4 billion scam involving false foreign exchange claims that have put pressure on the naira and spooked the currency market, Governor Yemi Cardoso revealed on Monday.
The discovery came to light after an audit by Deloitte, a consulting firm hired by the CBN to investigate the claims. The audit, part of a broader effort to make the CBN’s accounts transparent, exposed a $7 billion backlog of unmet dollar demand from investors and businesses. This “overhang,” as Cardoso called it, threatened to further weaken the naira against the dollar.
Cardoso, who was interviewed on Arise TV, explained that the Deloitte investigation revealed that $2.4 billion of the claims were entirely bogus. In some cases, claimants couldn’t produce valid import documents, and in others, the companies claiming the funds didn’t even exist.
“We had had reasons to believe we needed to take a harder look at these obligations. So we contracted Deloitte management consultants to do a forensics of all these obligations and to actually tell us what was valid and what was not,” Mr Cardoso said.
“The result that came out of this was startling in a great respect. It was startling. We discovered that of the roughly $7 billion, about $2.4 billion had issues, which we believe had no business being there and the infractions on that ranged from so many things, for example not having valid import documents and in some cases entities that do not exist.”
The discovery of the backlog follows the audit of CBN accounts after seven years of concealment