A recent report on how three major banks paid a combined N200m in penalties to regulators underscores the weaknesses in Nigeria’s regulatory framework. For committing 16 infractions of the rules combined in 2016, Access Bank, GT Bank and Union Bank were slammed with fines by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Securities and Exchange Commission. In the light of the horrific plunder of the public treasury and the proven complicity of the banks, tougher rules and harsher punishment are needed to protect the economy.
These three are not the only culprits as seen in details from the published audited reports of deposit money banks. Infractions routinely committed, year after year, by our banks range from late filing of financial reports, abuse of customers’ Automated Teller Machine cards to insider abuse, failure to undertake statutory due diligence, violation of anti-money laundering laws, cheating customers and anti-terrorism regulations relating to funds transfer, among others. Last year, the CBN imposed penalties of N312m on five banks for a combination of the above-listed infractions. These sums are paltry.