Federal Government declares Friday public holiday, excludes bankers, others

The Federal Government has declared Friday, February 22, 2019, as a public holiday, in preparation for the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.

Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Bello Dambazau (retd), made the declaration in Abuja on Wednesday.

The Ministry of Interior in a statement on Wednesday night by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, Georgina Ehuriah, however, excluded bankers and those offering essential services across the nation.

It said, “The Federal Government declares Friday, February 22, 2019, as work-free day. Those providing essential duties and bankers are excluded.

“The work-free day is to enable citizens return to their polling units for the reschedule Presidential and National Assembly elections.”

“Security agencies have been directed to ensure safety of lives and property before, during and after the general election,” the statement added.

Court vacates detention order on defunct Skye Bank's ex-chairman

A Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court has set aside an earlier order it granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to remand former chairman of the defunct Skye Bank, Tunde Ayeni, for 14 days.

The court, while vacating the order yesterday, held that the anti-graft agency misled it into granting the application on account of suppressed fact.

Justice Yusuf Halilu consequently ordered his immediate release from EFCC custody.

The ruling followed an enforcement of fundamental rights suit filed by Ayeni seeking his freedom.

The agency had last week approached the court through an ex-parte application.

The commission had hinged the request for a remand on the need to investigate a petition submitted by the office of the Vice President in respect of Ayeni’s alleged role as chair of the financial institution.

The applicant however approached the court to challenge the order, praying for it to be set aside.

In his argument, the Ayeni, through his lawyer, Ahmed Raji (SAN), submitted that the application was to challenge the jurisdiction of the court and EFCC’s action.

The lawyer informed the court that there was a pending suit before the Federal High Court against the applicant on same subject matter, and that the trial judge, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba, had admitted him to bail, whose conditions he had perfected

Raji told the court that the detention of the applicant was a breach of his fundamental human rights considering that he went to the EFCC upon invitation.

Polaris Bank takes financial inclusion to Niger State

Polaris Bank has entered into a strategic partnership with the Niger State Government to help participants in the supply value chain of the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) open bank accounts with the lender with ease.

Managing Director, Polaris Bank, Tokunbo Abiru, said the decision to partner with the state government aligned with the Federal Government’s commitment to ensure more children have access to education especially those from the less privileged (underprivileged) and most vulnerable segments of society.

While stating that human capital development was dear to the bank, Abiru said the partnership with the state government was in consonance with Polaris Bank’s commitment to  bridging the gap in the number of unbanked Nigerians.

He disclosed that since the feeding programme commenced in 2016, over 7,500 people across supply value chain have been engaged in Niger State while Polaris Bank has opened bank accounts for 1,500 cooks.

“When you take into consideration a recent survey which shows that about 40 per cent of Nigerians are unbanked, and the financial inclusion target of the Central Bank of Nigeria, you will see the importance of the work we are doing with the Niger State government. This will also ensure that we stimulate the economy in the state by providing banking services to the various chain of food suppliers, transporters, food stuff sellers, farmers and all other components involved,” Abiru said.

The NHGSFP is an initiative of the Federal Government designed as a deliberate act to encourage mass education to the less privileged (underprivileged) and the most vulnerable. The scheme also provides a viable balance diet for school children to fulfill all their basic nutritional needs.

Coronation MB, JP Morgan, Barclay and two others ranked amongst World’s Best Investment Banks

Global Finance magazine has named its 20th annual World’s Best Investment Banks in an exclusive survey to be published in the April 2019 issue. Winning organizations will be honoured at an awards ceremony on the morning of October 19, 2019 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC during the IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings. 

J.P. Morgan was honored as the Best Investment Bank in the world for 2019 while Coronation Merchant Bank was recognized as the Best Investment Bank in Nigeria along with Barclays, VTB Capital and DBS Bank as the Best Investments Banks in Western Europe, Central & East Europe and Asia – Pacific regions respectively. 

Investment banking plays a key role in moving the global economy forward. Our awards highlight the investment banks that stand out in delivering quality insight and innovative deals that meet their clients rapidly changing needs,” said Joseph D. Giarraputo, publisher and editorial director of Global Finance. 

Commenting on the award, Abu Jimoh, Group Managing Director/CEO of Coronation MB said, “We are delighted to be recognized as the Best Investment Bank in Nigeria. Our successes and achievements over the years is a reflection of the hard work and commitment of our staff, management and Board in ensuring we maintain our core values of integrity, innovation and excellence in service delivery”. He further stated that, “This award affirms that we are on course to achieving our long-term goal of becoming Africa’s premier investment bank”. 

Coronation Merchant Bank is a Nigeria based financial institution, founded in 2015 and offering a range of services to individual and institutional clients, including trade finance, treasury, investment banking and brokerage products. Coronation Merchant Bank is part of the Coronation group of companies, one of Africa’ leading investment management groups offering asset management, merchant banking, risk transfer and digital distribution capabilities. 

The Bank's achievements over the years has led to numerous accolades in recognition of excellent service delivery, provision of tailor made solutions and good corporate governance. In 2018, Coronation MB received several national and international awards for product and service innovation and sound corporate governance practices, such as: Best Investment Bank in Nigeria by World Finance, Fastest Growing Investment Bank by Global Banking & Finance Review, Best Investment Bank by Global Business Outlook, Best Investment Bank and Best Fund Managers by International Finance Magazine and Best Investment Bank in Nigeria by BusinessDay.  

2019 General Election Postponement: Economic Implications

Following the postponement of the 2019 General Elections on Saturday, 16th February 2019, Business Insider, Sub-Saharan Africa looks at four economic implications of the postponement on the nation, the individual and the economy.

1. Increased economic uncertainty
The postponement of the elections will further keep investors away from the Nigerian market as fear and uncertainty about the country's economic and political direction linger. This will also discourage investment and bring adverse effect to the nation’s stock market.

2. Overbearing costs
Individual spending has increased in the last two days. Many have gone to filling stations and supermarkets to stock up for the election weekend, while some have travelled out of their places of residence to their constituencies where they are registered to vote.

Journalists, international correspondents, and election observers have spent thousands of dollars travelling to and around Nigeria to cover the elections and observe polling activities.

For instance, a return flight for a UK journalist to cover Nigeria election will cost them about N400,00 (more than £800) while hotel accommodation for up to a week in a Lagos hotel could cost up to N35,000 (£75) per night. Add to that an average per diem of $500 for 3-4 days and you will get a sense of just how much could have been expended on covering the elections originally scheduled for February 16.

Every Saturday, hundreds, maybe thousands, of people get married across the country. Those who might have scheduled their weddings for the week after the elections will now have to reschedule them, bearing unforeseen costs that might greatly affect their finances in the process.

3. Companies’ strategies at risk
Some companies have tied their spending and 2019 strategies around the Saturday, February 16 and March 2, 2019, initial election dates, spending millions of Naira. Adjusting to the new dates will not only affect company finances, but it will have some effects on employee morale going into the new week, further harming the companies’ productivity levels.

Last week, Nigeria fully recovered from its worst economic recession as the GDP growth recorded a remarkable 1.93% in 2018, thanks to the activities and spending of private organisations. It will be important to note how these activities will be impacted in the coming weeks.

4. Waste of national resources
INEC’s budget for the election year is roughly 189 billion Naira. It is safe to say that a large chunk of that budget that has already been expended on logistics in preparation for elections on February 16 has gone to waste, never to be recouped.

INEC will also need to make adjustments to already incurred costs, almost doubling costs.

NSE All-Share Index Rises 0.12% as Market Rebounds

After one day of negative performance the stock market rebounded yesterday as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) All-Share Index (ASI) gained 0.12 per cent to close at 32,453.69 compared with a decline of 15 per cent. Market capitalisation added N14.0 billion to close at N12.1 trillion.

The market had on Wednesday depreciated due to profit taking after days of rally that led to a gain of about 6.7 per cent since the beginning of February.

However, the market rebounded yesterday as 22 stocks appreciated. Associated Bus Company Plc and Livestock Feeds Plc with 10 per cent apiece. Unity Bank Plc trailed with 9.6 per cent, just as Unilever Nigeria Plc. Wema Bank Plc went up by 6.7 per cent, while PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc chalked up 5.4 per cent.

PZ Cussons has been attracting more demand following restatement of its commitment to remain in the country. Contrary to speculations, the company said it had no plan to leave Nigeria, stressing that the country still remained a market of interest for it. Chief Executive Officer of PZ Cussons , Mr. Christos Giannopoulos, said the company would be celebrating 120 years of PZ Cussons making life better and adding value to Nigerians.

“In our 120 years of doing business in Nigeria, we have faced different conditions and come out stronger at the end. We confirm to our consumers, customers, employees, business partners and stakeholders that Nigeria still remains a market of interest for us and have made no plans to leave Nigeria . Our factories in Ikorodu, Aba and all our distribution centres around the country are operational and will continue to be,” he said.

Conversely, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc led the price losers with 8.3 per cent, trailed by Oando Plc with 5.1 per cent. Dangote Flour Mills Plc shed 4.5 per cent and Union Diagnostic went down by 3.2 per cent among others.

In all, investors traded 422.7 million shares worth N3.7 billion, which is lower than the previous day’s performance. The most active stocks by volume were Diamond Bank (97.6 million shares), Transcorp (41.1 million shares) and Zenith Bank (40.3 million shares) while Zenith Bank (N997.1 million), GTBank (N992.6 million) and Access Bank (N263.7 million) led in terms of value.

In terms of sectoral performance, three out of five sectors tracked advanced. The NSE Insurance Index led with 1.2 per cent. It was followed by the NSE Industrial Index and NSE Consumer Goods Index with 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent in that order.

On the contrarily, the NSE Oil & Gas Index and NSE Banking Index shed 0.8 per cent and 0.5 per cent in that order.

Former Ecobank manager remanded over alleged N411million fraud.

A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, yesterday remanded Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a former manager of Ecobank Nigeria, over allegations of defrauding the bank’s customers of N411million. 

Azike, who was handed over to the police by the investigative unit of the bank was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Force on a three-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretenses, false representation and fraud. The defendant, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge upon his arraignment.

Following his plea of not guilty, police prosecutor, ASP Daniel Apochi urged the court to remand him in prison pending trial. Consequently, Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison till March 8, when his bail application would be heard.

In a charge marked, FHC/L/56c/2019, the police alleged that between 2016 and 2017, Azike fraudulently obtained N150 million from a customer of Ecobank Nigeria under false pretence of buying him Federal Government Treasury Bill in his bank.

Azike was also alleged to have forged the bank customer’s signature, picture and letter of Instruction which he used in opening another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin. The police also alleged that the bank manager without the consent of the bank fraudulently converted the sum of N411 million belonging to the bank to his personal use. The offences were said to be contrary to Sections 1 (1) (a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

WorldRemit introduces ‘low-cost online money transfers’ from South Africa to Nigeria.

WorldRemit, a digital money transfer service, has introduced “low-cost online money transfers” from South Africa to Nigeria.

In a statement on Tuesday, the company said Nigerians living in South Africa can now send money to all major Nigerian banks with a few taps directly from their phones, using the WorldRemit app or website.

“The new digital service will reduce the cost of sending money across borders. The prohibitive charges that individuals and businesses pay to transfer money within Africa are recognised as a major obstacle to the growing regional integration promoted by the continent-wide free-trade agreement signed in March 2018,” the statement read.

“According to the World Bank, South Africa is the most expensive G20 country to send money from. The average cost of sending $200 from South Africa to Nigeria is nearly 16% – more than double the global average.

“WorldRemit is now one of the only digital money transfer services sending money from South Africa. By opening up this service, WorldRemit will introduce some of the cheapest fees available on the market to send money to Nigeria – often under half of the average cost.”

Nigeria and South Africa are the continent’s two largest economies which are home to 20% of Africa’s population.

Both nations contribute $700 billion to the continent’s gross domestic product (GDP) which represents one-third of the total GDP of $2.1 trillion.

CBN sets new rules for banks planning to establish banking relationship with foreign lenders

NEW rules have been set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for banks planning to establish correspondent banking relationship with foreign lenders.

The apex bank, in the Anti-Money Laundering/ Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Policy and Procedure Manual released yesterday insisted that it will guard against establishing correspondent banking relationships with high risk foreign banks such as shell banks, with correspondent banks that have historically allowed their institutions to be used for Money Laundering / Financing Terrorism (ML/FT).

The regulator said that all banking products that are used to convert cash to a monetary instrument and electronic products that permit rapid value movement such as electronic transfers, forex transactions followed by payment into an account in another jurisdiction can be abused by criminals.

The CBN said: “For trade transactions, Export Letters of Credit have been ranked as high risk because of the possibility of presentation of false shipping documents when no goods are actually shipped.

“Another factor in this ranking is the possibility of over-inflated invoicing for low value or worthless merchandise. All other trade products have been risk ranked either medium or low risk.”

The regulator said that transactions conducted through correspondent banking relationships shall be managed in accordance with a risk-based approach, and Know Your Correspondent (KYC) procedures shall be established to ascertain whether or not the correspondent bank or the counter party is itself regulated for money laundering prevention.

Also, where regulated, the correspondent shall verify the identity of its customers in accordance with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, and where this is not the case, additional due diligence shall be required to ascertain and assess the correspondent’s internal policy on money laundering and KYC procedures.

The CBN said that care should be taken when doing business with third parties located in geographic locations with a history of supporting terrorism, bases for drug production/distribution, suffering from civil unrest/war.

“These include jurisdictions that have been identified as high risk countries by standard setting institutions such as FATF; countries on designated sanction lists such as the United Nations Consolidated list and US Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) List,” the bank said.

The CBN said it shall accept customers after due verification of customers’ identities, address and/ or place of business, after ascertaining their source of income/funds and after considering the level of risks they pose to the bank, based on the kind of business under consideration (such as bureau de change operators).

The apex bank said care will be taken to apply appropriate level of due diligence, depending on customers’ risk profiles adding that no accounts shall be opened for anonymous of fictitious customers.

“The CBN should not enter into a relationship with a prospective customer until the person/entity has been duly identified and verified. The customer acceptance process also includes ensuring that the prospective customer is not on the ‘watch-list’ which includes names of sanctioned persons as well as known fraudsters.”

Central bank lists measures for anti-money laundering, combating financing of terrorism

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned employees of financial institutions to avoid establishing relationships with individuals or entities who may pose undue reputational risks to their organisations.

The regulator also warned staffers to protect banks’ integrity and fair dealing by ensuring that customers and transactions which financial institutions engage in are legitimate.

These are some of the minimum operating standards for employees of financial institutions which the apex bank released on Friday, urging stakeholders to comply with the AML/CFT laws and regulations to ensure that banks’ products and services are not used for the purpose of Money Laundering, Terrorism Financing or other crimes.

The 37-page manual which deals among others, conduct of financial services, dealings with third party beneficiaries and employee conduct in discharge of their duties, is intended to achieve the objectives of its Anti-Money Laundering, Combating the Financing of Terrorism.

The release of the document is coming simultaneously with allegations by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of illicit financial flows involving ten undisclosed commercial banks.

Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, made the allegation on Friday during a round table meeting with managing directors of financial institutions in Nigeria.

The EFFC boss said: “It is worrisome to note that in 2018, statistics available to the EFCC shows that out of about 28 commercial banks in Nigeria, 10 banks evacuated out of Nigeria through Travelex Nigeria Limited the sums of GBP- 50,832,560; USD-8,057,756; EURO-39,986,560 and RAND-7,500,000.

“The reasons for these evacuations are still sketchy. We must note that the impact of illicit financial flows from the country undermine the stability and integrity of the financial institutions,” said Magu.

Magu who spoke on “Roles and Obligations of Managing Directors of Banks in Nigeria in Curbing Vote Buying During an Election, Illicit Financial Flows and Other Related Matters in Nigeria” accused banks of aiding customers to receive foreign financial inflows to their accounts in neighbouring countries like Ghana, Republic of Niger and other West African countries where they have branches.

In its new manual, the CBN set out measures, policies and procedures financial institutions must adopt in the anti-money laundering and combating of the financing of terrorism initiative, urging financial system operators to promote sound financial system and ensure that employees conduct business in accordance with applicable Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws and regulations.

The manual which aims to establish procedures and minimum standards to protect the CBN from being used as a channel to launder money, finance terrorism and other forms of financial crimes, advised Banks to supports their staff to achieve the highest standards of compliance and integrity.

“Employees shall fully understand and be guided by these standards in the conduct of business and dealings with stakeholders. Protecting the good name and the reputation of the Bank shall be a primary consideration in all actions taken by employees,” CBN stated.


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