How Nigerians Connive With Commercial Banks in New Dollar Racket Via PTAs

How Nigerians Connive With Commercial Banks in New Dollar Racket Via PTAs

  • Nigerians have a new way of trading in foreign exchange and make millions of bucks, according to investigation
  • The new scheme which has seen Nigerians rushing to open dollar or domiciliary accounts involves people getting dollars via commercial banks
  • Nigerians living abroad use the scheme to obtain PTA under the guise of traveling abroad and use it obtain forex

Justine Oyewole has lived in Dubai for the past four years and has not been to Nigeria since he left in March 2018.

Oyewole said he went to Dubai through a tourist visa, which has expired, and he has remained largely in hiding due to fear of deportation.

Dubai, Banks, dollars
Nigerians plan with banks to trade in forex Credit: Prostock-Studio
Source: Getty Images

Working in a ceramics company in Dubai and practically living in his workplace, Oyewole has been able to sponsor three of his siblings to the country, with a caveat.

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He told this reporter that he plans to send as many as possible to the UAE under a special arrangement of sourcing dollars from commercial banks back home in Nigeria via Personal Travel Allowances (PTAs).

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'Trader' narrates his experiences

“For everyone, I bring over, I have a cut from his PTA, and they usually return to Nigeria after two to three months and return again with another PTA, which I am also entitled to another round of cuts,” Oyewole said.

Oyewole said the travellers could come to Dubai with as much as $4,000 as PTA, and he gets about a 30 per cent cut from them.

He told that he knows someone who has more than 10 people coming and going from Dubai and gets a cut from their PTAs each time.

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Oyewole’s scheme is a new racket in town that involves most commercial banks in Nigeria conniving with customers to obtain spurious PTAs as means of trading in scarce foreign exchange, especially the US dollar.

The new trend sees Nigerians residing abroad, especially in the United Arab Emirates or Dubai, using their relations or friends to obtain questionable PTAs, all in a bid to trade in illicit foreign exchange.

The commercial banks connection

The ones residing abroad shoulder most of the travel costs and facilitate the travellers getting forex from some commercial banks in Nigeria, who, according to Oyewole, equally get ‘something’ from the deal.

This trend has created a mad rush by Nigerians to open dollar accounts in most commercial banks, especially as the local currency, the naira, has fallen to an all-time low of N698 to a dollar in the parallel market.

For those who own dollar accounts but do not travel, their accounts are mostly used to pay in dollars, and they also get a cut, all facilitated by bank workers who are in cahoots.

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The new scheme fetches cool millions

During the recently concluded Commonwealth Games held in Birmingham, one Nigerian delegate told anonymously that he saw many Nigerians in the United Kingdom who told him that the PTA racket is a new way to make extra cash.

According to him, they source the dollars from Bureau de Change operators or commercial banks and travel abroad. Then, when they return to Nigeria and change the money, it runs into millions of naira. And they can make three to four trips every year.

Commercial banks in Nigeria have been hit with forex scarcity, which leaves customers scrambling for funds, negatively impacting other sectors like manufacturing.

Oyewole stated that there would be more scramble for forex as schools are about to resume and parents and guardians send their children back to schools abroad.

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Checks by show that the scarcest of them is the US dollar which seems to be in short supply followed by the pounds sterling.

Visits to some commercial banks in Lagos State show that most of them have run short of the US greenback and are giving excuses to their customers.


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