Nigeria refunds banks part of $1.4 billion credit penalty

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FILE - REUTERS

Nigerian central bank has refunded lenders part of the 500 billion naira ($1.4 billion) taken as additional cash reserves after banks failed to meet a target to provide more credit.

FILE PHOTO – BLOOMBERG

Citigroup Inc. and Zenith Bank Plc were among a dozen lenders fined last month for not reaching the set goal.

“Most of them that were involved got a refund,” after they met the requirement at the end of September, Ahmad Abdullahi, the head of banking supervision said by telephone, without naming the beneficiary banks or how much was returned.

Nigeria’s central bank debited lenders a combined 500 billion naira on Sept. 26 for falling short of 60% loan-to-deposit target introduced in July.

The measures aimed to boost credit to small and medium-sized businesses as well as consumers and help revive the economy. The central bank agreed to refund banks that meet the deadline, according to Zenith Bank CEO Ebenezer Onyeagwu.

United Bank for Africa Plc was refunded some of the 99.7 billion naira it was fined after it increased lending, according to Chief Financial Officer Ugochukwu Nwaghodoh.

“It is not a penalty where a bank is to forfeit money,” Abdullahi said. The regulator raised the ratio this month to 65% for a December deadline and said the directive would be reviewed quarterly.

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