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Hunting Emefiele: Nigeria’s Central Bank Releases A 7-Year Consolidated Financial Statement

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ABUJA, Nigeria – The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, released Consolidated Financial Statements for seven consecutive years, marking the first time since 2015 that the bank’s records have been opened for public assessment.

This release, covering the financial years from 2016 to 2022, showcases a significant uptick in the bank’s profits, reporting N103.8 billion in 2022, a rise from the N75.13 billion in the preceding year.

Additionally, the report divulged that the CBN owes banking giants JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs a combined debt of $7.5 billion as of December 2022.

Further, the bank’s liabilities encompass an additional debt of $6.3 billion in foreign currency forwards.

The specifics of the bank’s obligations towards the two banking institutions are elaborated as securities lending.

As described in the 2022 financial statement, the CBN engaged in securities lending with both Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, pledging its foreign securities in exchange for cash.

This lending practice is integrated into the CBN’s total external reserves, which stood at approximately N14.3 trillion or $29 billion, using the 2022 official exchange rate.

Furthermore, the bank also owes N3.15 trillion ($6.3 billion) in foreign currency forward – forex obligations it is bound to repay to foreign investors.

This release comes amidst a backdrop of criticism towards the suspended CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who faced backlash for his reluctance to publish these financial statements – an act viewed by many as a breach of the CBN Act.

Following a consistent track record since 2005 of annual report publications on its website, the CBN ceased this transparency in 2016.

Per the CBN Act 2007 provisions, the bank is mandated to publish its report within two months post the conclusion of every financial year.

Industry analysts argue that such delays in publication can potentially deter investors, casting shadows of doubt on the state of the economy.

In light of the growing concerns, President Bola Tinubu appointed Jim Obazee as a Special Investigator, entrusting him with probing the activities of the CBN and associated entities.

The President’s letter, dated July 28, 2023, emphasized that this initiative aligns with his administration’s commitment to anti-corruption.

The terms of Obazee’s role as a special investigator are yet to be fully outlined.

However, the immediate directive from the President is clear – Obazee is to meticulously examine the operations of the CBN, collaborating with pertinent security and anti-corruption entities to ensure a thorough investigation.

This development is widely seen as a reaffirmation of the apex bank’s commitment, under acting Governor Folashodun Shonubi, to uphold transparency and strengthen public trust.

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