* Forex dealers to be monitored more closely
* Money laundering putting pressure on naira currency
* Political corruption partly responsible - central bank
LAGOS, Sept 27 Nigeria's central bank has
announced new measures to tackle money laundering it says is
weakening the naira currency and risks pushing up inflation, and
which it suspects is linked to early political campaigning for
"Available statistics indicate that Nigeria has become the
largest importer of U.S. dollars," the regulator said in
Friday's notice explaining that its twice-weekly wholesale
foreign exchange auction will be replaced with a retail version
requiring dealers to reveal the identity of their buyers.
Corruption in the build-up to Nigeria's 2015 election is
partly responsible for the increase, Governor Lamido Sanusi said
at the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee meeting on
Tuesday, adding that it is "absolutely wrong" for bureaux de
changes to buy hundreds of millions of dollars without
Politicians in Africa's top oil exporter often spend heavily
on patronage to secure seats or pay off rivals, with at least
some of this money acquired through corruption or links to
crimes such as oil theft or kidnapping. Transparency
International ranks Nigeria 139th out of 174 countries on its
corruption perception index.
The central bank's new measures do not affect the $250,000
weekly limit for foreign exchange dealers' sales to bureaux de
However, dealers will now have to obtain prior approval to
import foreign exchange banknotes, and recipients of proceeds
from international money transfer firms such as Western Union
and MoneyGram will be paid only in naira.
The limit on MasterCard and Visa naira debit and
credit card spending abroad has been increased to $150,000 a
year, from $40,000 a year, in an effort to increase transparency
and reduce black market forex trading.