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First Bank, Gt Bank Ghana, Reassure Customers Over Suspension By Ghana Central Bank

 Olushola Bello

First Bank Ghana, a subsidiary of First Bank Nigeria has reassured it customers in Ghana to be calm, stating that it is working with the Central Bank of Ghana to identify and address issues that led to the suspension of its forex trading licence by the apex bank.

According to the bank: “We refer to the Bank of Ghana’s announcement of the 30-day suspension of our Foreign Exchange Trading Licence effective March 18, 2024.

It stated that it would like to advise valued customers and esteemed stakeholders that we are working with the Bank of Ghana to remediate the identified trade-related matters.

“FBNBank would like to assure its valued customers that when the suspension kicks in, the Bank’s other business segments and solutions will be fully operational. This will include branch operations, agent banking partners and channels for seamless banking.

“We reaffirm our commitment to our customers and stakeholders to the provision of the full range of excellent banking services, with the assurances that we will continue to uphold the high ethical standards that we are known for.”

Similarly, Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana acknowledged the suspension of its Foreign Exchange Trading Licence by the Central Bank of Ghana until April 18, 2024, and assured customers and stakeholders of efforts to address trade-related issues promptly, emphasising that customer deposits and other business segments remain unaffected, with all services available through regular channels and online platforms.

It also affirmed its commitment to regulatory compliance, Anti-Money Laundering policies, and ongoing discussions with the Central Bank of Ghana to resolve matters promptly.

They stated: “We refer to the Central Bank of Ghana’s press statement in which it announced the suspension of Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana’s Foreign Exchange Trading License effective from the 18th of March 2024 until the 18th of April 2024 (1 month period) and received official notice of same.”

“We would like to assure all our esteemed customers and stakeholders that we are currently working with the relevant Government Agencies and customers to resolve these trade-related issues timely.”

“Our customers and stakeholders are our primary responsibility and, Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana would like to clarify that this development does not affect customers’ deposits and other business segments of our operations. All other products and services;-Main branches and agency Banking outlets are available for your convenient use at our regular opening hours and our Mobile Apps and Internet banking are available for your use at any time of the day.”

“We further assure our customers that the issue was not a function of willful non-compliance by the Bank, as the Bank has a culture that endeavours to comply with regulations at all times and stringent Anti-Money Laundering CFT policies which are applied across all our operations.

“We are also in ongoing consultations and discussions with the Central Bank of Ghana to resolve all matters raised in the shortest possible time fully. Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana remains committed to being a constructive participant in Ghana’s financial markets and to contributing to its further developments in the interest of all its customers and stakeholders.”

It would be recalled that the Bank of Ghana has issued a temporary suspension of the Foreign Exchange Trading Licences of Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana Limited (GTB) and FBNBank Ghana Limited (FBN) starting from March 18, 2024, for one month.

The Bank of Ghana in a statement on its official website noted that this proactive measure is prompted by multiple violations of foreign exchange market regulations, notably involving instances of fraudulent documentation in their foreign exchange activities.

The bank also noted that the restoration of the licence will occur upon the completion of the one-month suspension, contingent on the Bank of Ghana’s confirmation that robust controls had been implemented to guarantee rigorous compliance with foreign exchange market regulations.

Ghana’s apex bank harped on the importance of foreign exchange market participants to rigorously adhere to the relevant forex market regulations and guidelines.

Also, both banks have stated that they are currently working with the relevant government agencies and customers to resolve these trade-related issues timely.

The statement by the Bank of Ghana reads: “Bank of Ghana has suspended the Foreign Exchange Trading Licences of Guaranty Trust Bank Ghana Limited (GTB) and FBNBank Ghana Limited (FBN), effective 18th March 2024, for one (1) month, following section 11 (2) of the Foreign Exchange Act 2006, (Act 723).”

“This is as a result of various breaches of the foreign exchange market regulations, including fraudulent documentation in their foreign exchange operations which have come to the attention of Bank of Ghana.”

“The licence will be restored at the end of the one-month suspension period once the Bank of Ghana is satisfied that they have put in place effective controls to ensure strict adherence to the foreign exchange market regulations.By this statement, we caution foreign exchange market players to adhere strictly to the applicable forex market regulations and guidelines.”

Section 11 (2) of the Foreign Exchange Act 2006, (Act 723 states: “The Bank may suspend a licence for a specific period or determine conditions or restrictions for the licence instead of revoking the licence.”

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