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Nigeria Central Bank Reveals Deals with Goldman, JPMorgan

Nigeria Central Bank Reveals Deals with Goldman, JPMorgan
Pedestrians walk on a street in the business district in Lagos, Nigeria, on Saturday, Feb. 16, 2019. A last-minute delay of Nigeria’s general elections by a week has thrown Africa’s biggest democracy into disarray and carries dangers for both President Muhammadu Buhari and his main opponent, Atiku Abubakar.

Nigeria’s central bank disclosed large dollar deals with JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs in documents that also confirmed it broke limits on lending to the government.

Annual financial statements, published for the first time since 2015, refer to two securities lending agreements with JP Morgan Chase & Co. for $7 billion in 2021 and two of $500 million with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

There was no further information disclosed regarding the securities that were pledged in return for cash.

Goldman declined to comment. Officials at JPMorgan and the central bank did not respond to requests for comment.

Read more: Tinubu Orders Probe of Operations of Nigeria’s Central Bank

The central bank, which published the multiple annual financial statements on its website on Aug. 9, also showed it vastly exceeded the limit placed on its lending to the government, which is capped by statue at 5% of federal revenue.

The Abuja-based bank said that based on the actual government revenues of 5.05 trillion naira ($6.5 billion) at the end of 2021, it should not have lent more than 252 billion naira to the government in 2022. Instead by the end of December 2022, the Bank had advanced a total of 23.18 trillion naira to the government.

Nigeria's Currency Has Slumped Since Forex Rules Were Relaxed  | Naira down around 40% against the dollar

This “exceeded the statutory limit by 22.9 trillion naira” the bank said in the statement, it’s first public admission that the rules had been breached.

The International Monetary Fund warned on Thursday that the central bank’s continuous lending to the government are causing excess liquidity, depressing interest rates, discouraging savings and deterring the dollar inflows that could boost naira stability after the government allowed its local currency to trade more freely since mid-June.

Nigerian lawmakers early this year raised the limit the central bank can lend to the government to 15% of previous year’s revenue but insisted that the government must in future seek its approval before it can take on such debts.

Read more: Nigerians Left Cold by Tinubu Reforms as Investors Applaud

The disclosures come at a period of volatility for the naira, which has plunged around 40% in value against the dollar after President Bola Tinubu relaxed foreign exchange rules following his May 29 inauguration. Tinubu’s reforms, which include scrapping costly fuel subsidies, have led to a rally in dollar bonds and raised stocks to a 15-year high.

He also suspended the central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele in early June and has since opened a probe into the monetary authority’s activities.

Emefiele had massively expanded the central bank’s overdraft to the government since 2015, as the government borrowed aggressively to offset declining revenues from crude oil exports. The overdrafts make up nearly 40% of the total asset size of 58 trillion naira of the central bank as at the end of last year.

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