Bank officials direct customers to black marketeers

2016-02-20
THE PUNCH Newspaper

Due to the scarcity of dollars in the circulation, banks have surprisingly started to encourage their clients to patronise black marketeers, reports Punch Newspaper

Our source who visited some banks in the Dugbe area of Ibadan, Oyo State, observed that information displayed on the boards at the banks early on Thursday put the sale of dollars at between N365 and N369.50k. Later on Thursday, however, the naira tumbled significantly in the parallel market hitting 391 against the dollar.


However, officials at some of the banks said an order had to be placed because the currency was not available.

A foreign exchange officer in one of the banks revealed that the price at his bank was not fixed as it changes daily. He said if our correspondent was in need of the currency immediately, it was better to approach the black market in the Sabo area of the city to purchase the dollars — at a higher rate, though.

He said, “Depending on the amount you want to purchase, you may have to place an order, but the price keeps changing. The price you see today might change tomorrow. In fact, it now changes every day.”

At a First Bank branch in the city on Wednesday, our source met an importer of generator parts, Kunle Olatunji, who had approached the bank for foreign exchange transaction.

According to Olatunji, who has a store at Ogunpa market in the city, he had earlier visited the bank on Tuesday and was told to check back on Wednesday to complete his transaction. On the day of the appointment, the trader was disappointed because he was told that he could only get less than what he wanted.

He said, “I had sent some money to my agent in Japan, but he told me that I had to complete the money before he could send any goods. I resorted to using agents because of travelling expenses since dollar rate became inconsistent and excessively high. It was a bit risky, but I had to take a decision to save cost and remain in business.

“I needed at least $5,000 more and if you consider that in today’s exchange rate, it is high. The naira I had on me on Tuesday, which I thought would be enough, could not purchase the amount of dollars I need. Today, I was told that it had gone up.”

When one of our correspondents visited the Guarantee Trust Bank on Ojodu-Berger Road, a female bank official initially asked our correspondent how much dollars he required and for which purpose.

After being told that it was for an overseas transaction, she asked if the same would be conducted through her bank, but our correspondent answered her in the negative.

“Actually, we have so many people who keep coming here every day because we have none available at the moment. There is a waiting list. If you need it urgently, there is a man (bureau de change operator) around the corner (just beside the bank). You can talk to him and he may make some arrangements,” she said.

It was learnt that the bureau de change operator in question works in concert with some officials of the bank on the buying and selling of dollars.

A customer later told one of our correspondents that the officials at the bank always direct people to the bureau de change operator, highlighting the belief that many banks are taking advantage of the customers because of the dollar scarcity.

At one of the old generation banks in Bauchi, a staff of the bank simply said, “Go to the black market and buy it there; we no longer sell dollars, but if you have, you can bring and deposit.”

When asked when it could be found at the bank, he simply said, “Mah, my brother, you can get it when Buhari fulfils his promise of making $1 equivalent to N1.”

A banker who works at Eco Bank stated that the bank does not have dollars. He hinted that the best way to get the green back was at the black market, but said that they (the black marketeers) don’t sell at the official rate.

He also advised that while dealing with the black marketeers, clients should be careful because most of the marketeers had started selling fake dollars.

 

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