Kaspersky: North Korean hackers attack banks in Nigeria, 18 other countries

A Russian online cyber security firm, Kaspersky, Thursday, alleged that North Korean hackers are allegedly attacking banks in Nigeria and 17 other countries.

The organisation noted in its report that this could be regarded as the biggest bank heist in world history.

Reports said banks and security researchers had previously identified four similar cyber-heists attempt on financial institutions in Bangladesh, Ecuador, the Philippines and Vietnam.

But on Thursday, researchers at Kaspersky said the same hacking operation, known as “Lazarus”, also attacked financial institutions in Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Gabon, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia,
Poland, Taiwan, Thailand, Uruguay and Nigeria.

But the Central Bank of Nigeria has since said it was not aware of the development.

The new report is coming after more than a year-long investigation into the activity of “Lazarus”, the hacking group allegedly responsible for the theft of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh last year.

The claims that North Korea could have been behind the attack has added to concerns that the country is becoming bolder in its cyber attacks against global financial institutions.

CNN reports that North Korea’s mysterious Lazarus hacking operation has been blamed for several large international cyber attacks in recent years.

Reserchers at Kaspersky said the hackers can be traced back to North Korea, adding that to hide their location, hackers typically launch cyber attacks from computer servers far from home.

The Lazarus hackers, according to Kaspersky, carefully routed their signal through France, South Korea and Taiwan to set up that attack server but a connection that briefly came from North Korea was spotted by Kaspersky.

Vitaly Kamluk, who leads Kaspersky’s Asia-Pacific research team, said, “North Korea is a very important part of this equation,” but the North Korean government has reportedly denied allegations of the hack.

Kaspersky Lab has, however, said despite the evidence of the North Korean IP address, it “is not enough proof to provide definitive attribution given that the connection session could have been a false flag operation.”

 

Source: Premium Times

JAMB, banks trade accusations over delays in registration

With Benue candidates encountering more difficulties in their bids to register for the 2017/2018 Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examinations (UTME), banks and the Joint Admissions Matriculation Board (JAMB) have continued to trade blames.

While JAMB has accused the banks of causing the delays, the banks have shot back, arguing that JAMB was solely responsible for generating the Personal Identification Number (PIN), which was the main cause of the delay

Simeon Isimishere, the Operations Manager of Zenith Bank, Makurdi branch, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Friday in Makurdi that the banks were not responsible for the delays experienced by applicants seeking to register the JAMB examinations.

Mr. Isimishere expressed surprise at the allegations by Samuel Umuru, Head of JAMB office in Makurdi, that the banks were responsible for the delays and confusion.

“How can JAMB blame the banks? Generating the PINs is the main headache and that is solely handled by JAMB. The banks only issue what has been generated and given to them, so how can one blame them?” he asked.

He said the banks only receive the payments and issue the PINs.

“The problem is that after getting the PINs, most applicants are unable to access the JAMB website,” he said.

He explained that the initial PINs that were generated by the board had issues and could not be activated.

The official, however, disclosed that the banks were working with the board to resolve the issues and announced that the problems had been “brought down to the barest minimum”.

A cross section of the applicants, who spoke with NAN, however said that they were no more experiencing the challenges.

An applicant, Adasu Emmanuel, said that he had difficulties activating the PIN that was given to him from the bank and made several trips, from the bank to the JAMB office, to rectify the problem.

“Already, the problem has been fixed. We fixed it this afternoon (Friday),” he said.

Another applicant, Gloria Asom, who was still on the queue in the bank, also agreed that there was much improvement because “the queue is moving fast and there is no much confusion again”.

She said that the lines were moving fast, but added that applicants were returning to the bank to complain of invalid PINs.

Reacting to the damage in the Makurdi JAMB office, Mr Moses Yamu, Public Relations Officer of the Benue Police Command, said that the protesters were dispersed before they could commit much havoc.

He said that no suspect was arrested, but disclosed that investigation was ongoing.

“Normalcy has been restored and officials of the examinations board have resumed their duties,” he said.

NAN recalls that applicants seeking to purchase the JAMB forms besieged the Makurdi JAMB office on Thursday, to protest the cumbersome registration process.

The angry applicants broke windows and destroyed the office signpost.

 

Source: NAN

Banks move against Etisalat’s plan to pay debts in Naira

Banks have opposed a proposal by Etisalat Nigeria to convert part of a $1.2 billion loan from dollar to naira.

Etisalat had proposed that the Abu Dhabi telecommunications group and its other shareholders should recapitalise it instead.

A banker, who confided in Reuters, revealed that the seven-year syndicated loan, on which Etisalat missed a payment, has a dollar portion of $235 million, which the firm wants to convert to naira to overcome the hard currency shortages in the Nigeria’s interbank market.

A source at the NCC told The Guardian yesterday that the meeting was shifted due to some unforeseen circumstances.

“It would now be held at an agreed date next week, and will include the CBN, NCC and Etisalat’s shareholders. The major thing for now is that discussions are on-going,” the source said.

It was further learnt that Etisalat is asking the banks to convert the dollar component to naira “but the banks don’t want that option and have told them to talk to their parent body to settle the loan.”

The UAE’s Etisalat owns 45 per cent of Etisalat Nigeria, while Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala owns 40 per cent of the company, which is due to meet its lenders for debt talks mediated by Nigeria’s central bank and the telecoms regulator.

This meeting was proposed after the authorities agreed with the local banks to prevent Etisalat Nigeria, which was not available for comment, going into receivership.

In 2013, Etisalat Nigeria was said to have secured a total of $1.7 billion medium term syndicated loan facility with a consortium of Nigerian banks. The facility included both naira and dollar tranches from a consortium of Nigerian banks.

The loan, which involved a foreign-backed guaranty bond, was for Etisalat to finance a major network rehabilitation and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.

Sources from the Nigerian affiliate of the Abu Dhabi-listed telecoms firm had given notice to its Nigerian lenders that it would miss a payment on a $1.2 billion loan in February.

 

Source: The Guardian

70 per cent of bank frauds come from within – CBN

About 30 million Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) have so far been linked to the several bank accounts operated in the country, says the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)

Speaking at a post-event interview with The Guardian, Deputy Director, Banking and Payment System, CBN, Musa Itopa-Jimoh, gave the figure.

Itopa-Jimoh, who was in Lagos to represent the Director, Banking and Payment System, CBN, Dipo Fatokun, at the maiden edition of the Cyber Security Conference 2017, organised by the flagship of the Nigerian media, The Guardian, said the CBN is building a watch list of events in the sector as it relates to security breaches, stressing that the BVN would significantly help reduce the incidence of fraud and the likes in the industry.

According to him, the apex bank is aware of the fraudsters, but there is still no law for punitive measures.

“But I think, it is just a matter of time, we shall soon resolve all those matters. Already, there will be a watch list as regards fraud activities. The CBN and the Nigeria Police Force will set up an ePayment and crime unit to further fight that battle,” he said.

In the paper presented by Itopa-Jimoh on behalf of Fatokun, the CBN said in furtherance of its efforts at combating fraud in the industry, it partnered with NIBSS to procure and install an industry anti-fraud solution.

He said the solution is an industry fraud monitoring tool that ensures behavioural monitoring, patterns and hold/block controls on transaction suspected to be fraudulent.

In the same vein, he said CBN also directed all stakeholders to establish and maintain dedicated fraud desks in their respective organizations.

He added that the CBN along with relevant stakeholders are exploring ways to establish an industry Security Operations Centre and a Risk Information Centre, to consolidate “our strength at eradicating e-payments frauds to the barest minimum and enhancing trust in our payments system.

“The bank had issued various policies and circulars on industry related fraud detection and prevention.”

Checks by The Guardian on the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) showed that as at January 2017, there were 74.5 million total bank accounts in Nigeria, with 66.6 million being active. There are 25 million current accounts, while 69.4 million are run as savings account.

The CBN through the Banker’ Committee and in collaboration with all banks in Nigeria on February 14, 2014 launched a centralized biometric identification system for the banking industry, tagged the BVN.

The BVN, which is in its third year now, gives a unique identity that can be verified across the Nigerian banking industry. Customers’ bank accounts are protected from unauthorized access and addresses issues of identity theft, thus reduce exposure to fraud.

 

Source: The Guardian

Banks to charge N4m on every N40m cash withdrawal from April

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced that charges on deposits will be re-introduced.

In a circular released on its website, the apex bank said the decision was made at the 493rd bankers committee meeting that held on February 8.

The apex bank also said it would extend its cashless policy to the remaining 30 states.

“Please be informed that the bankers committee at its 493rd meeting held on February 8 reviewed the cashless policy charges on withdrawal and deposit and decided that the policy be extended to the 30 remaining states of the federation,” the circular read.

For individuals, deposits ranging from N500,000 to N1 million will attract a 1.5% charge, while withdrawals within the range would attract 2% charge.

Deposits of amounts above N1m to N5m will attract 2% and withdrawals will attract 3% charge. Deposits and withdrawals above N5m will attract 3% and 7.5% charge respectively. In the corporate category, deposits and withdrawals below N3m will not attract charges.

Deposits and withdrawals between N3m and N10m will attract 2% and 5% respectively, while deposits and withdrawals between N10m and N40m will attract 3% and 7.5% respectively. Deposits and withdrawals above N40m will attract 5% and 10% respectively.

“The new charges would take effect from April 1 in the existing cashless states (Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, Rivers and the FCT). The policy shall be implemented with the charges taking effect on May 1 in the following states: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Ondo, Osun and Plateau,” the circular read.

“The policy shall be implemented with the charges taking effect on August 1 in Edo, Katsina, Jigawa, Niger, Oyo, Adamawa, Akwa-Ibom, Ebonyi, Taraba and Nasarawa. The policy shall be implemented with the charges taking effect on October 1 in Borno, Benue, Ekiti, Cross-River, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Yobe, Sokoto and Zamfara.”

CBN said the income generated from the charges would be shared between it and the banks in a ratio of 40:60.

It said exemptions would only be available for the government, embassies, diplomatic missions and aid donor agencies.

 

Source: www.thecable.ng

Court restrains Stella Oduah from withdrawing cash in banks.

A Federal High Court, Lagos, has restrained Senator Stella Oduah and Sea Petroleum and Gas Company Limited and its directors from making any withdrawal whatsoever from the account of the company.

The restriction order also involves three other limited liability companies, namely Sea Shipping Agency Limited, Rotary Engineering Services Limited and Tour Afrique Company Limited.

The accounts of those firms are domiciled in 21 commercial banks listed before the court. The order followed an alleged indebtedness of $16,412,819.06 and N100,493,225.59 to Sterling Bank.

The order of the court was sequel to an affidavit sworn to by Business Manager, Sterling Bank Plc., Mr. Segun Akinsanya, filed and argued before the court by Kemi Balogun (SAN).

Akinsanya, in the affidavit, averred that on October 8, 2012, the bank granted a lease/cabotage vessel finance facility to Sea Petroleum and Gas Company in the sum of $10,069,620.25 to finance one unit 5,000MT tanker vessel.

“The loan was secured by unconditional personal guarantee of the companies’ director, Oduah, and supported by statement of her networth, legal mortgage of two property worth N135 million and power of attorney of the tanker vessel in favour of Sterling Bank.

“There was also a fully executed irrevocable standing payment order and tripartite remittance agreement between First Bank Plc, Sterling Bank and Stella Oduah,” Akinsanya swore.

He further averred that Sea Petroleum and Gas Company requested for and was granted additional facilities in the sum of $449,600 for post-delivery expenses, $642,954 and $350,000 to meet the requisite conditions in securing the release of the tanker from the federal high court.

According to him, upon the persistent failure of the defendants to liquidate their indebtedness, Sterling Bank instructed the law firm of Oluwakemi Balogun to recover the debt.

Meanwhile, Oduah and her companies while urging the court to discharge the order, also filed a preliminary objection urging the court to strike out the suit on the ground that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain it.

Justice Abdulaziz Anka has adjourned till March 20, 2017 to decide either to vacate the order or not.

 

Source: The Guardian

Enugu Internal Revenue Board Goes Tough, Seals Off Eight Banks.

The Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue has sealed off eight banks in the metropolis, for failure to remit about 1Billion Naira tax to the government.

The exercise which started on Monday morning at about 5:30am, affected Access Bank PLC, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Skye Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank and Sterling Bank, in the metropolis.

The Chairman, Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue, Mr Emeka Odo made this known to newsmen in Enugu, that the board obtained an order from the state High Court to seal the affected banks.

Mr Odo, said sealing of the banks which is the first phase of the enforcement exercise on the major companies and institutions will remain under lock and key, to ensure that they perform their civic obligations to the state government.

He however called on customers of the affected banks not to panic as the banks are expected to take necessary actions, to enable the government serve them better.

 

Source: Channels TV

CBN to sanction banks violating procedures of receiving funds

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has threatened to sanction banks still collecting payments under the Nigerian Content Development Fund (NCDF) without remitting to the dedicated account opened for the fund.

Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, made this statement at the stakeholders’ forum, organised by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in Lagos.

Represented by Jack Ukitefu, a deputy director at CBN, Emefiele said the bank would collaborate with the agency to identify the defaulting banks.

He warned them to close such accounts and remit the funds at their disposal to the dedicated account with the apex bank.

He said the infraction by the bank was a violation of the treasury single account (TSA) policy and promised to punish such banks, adding that the operations of the TSA began in 2015 and that all ministries, departments and agencies should have complied.

Emefiele said CBN will not hesitate to sanction any of the banks identified in the act because it is viewed as a very serious offence.

Simbi Wabote, executive secretary of the NCDMB, said the NCDF was established by section 104 of the Nigerian Oil & Gas Industry Content Development (NOGICD) Act of 2010.

Wabote said the act provided that one percent of every contract in the upstream sector of the Nigeria oil and gas industry shall be deducted at source and paid into the fund.

The act also gives the board the mandate to manage the fund and employ it for projects, programmes and activities directed at increasing Nigerian content in the Oil and Gas industry.

“The board opened up the fund for utilisation from 2013, based on the approved operating model that segmented 70 percent of the fund to finance commercial interventions and 30 percent for developmental initiatives and activities carried out by the board on behalf of the industry,” he said.

“Under commercial interventions, the fund was leveraged to provide 30 percent partial guarantee to commercial banks for loans granted to oil and gas service companies towards financing project execution.”

CBN to penalise banks for borrowing without security.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says deposit money banks who borrow without adequate security will be suspended from the window for eight weeks.

In a circular released on Wednesday, the CBN announced new rules on how banks can borrow cash from fellow banks or the CBN to cover their temporary shortfalls or meet their obligations.

The regulator said that any commercial bank that fails to comply with the new directives will be suspended from its window for eight weeks.

The circular was signed by Alvan Ikoku, director, financial market of the apex bank.

“With reference to Section 10.1 of the S4 business rules and guidelines, which states among others that transaction with the CBN, any auction or two-way quote with the CBN must be settled. If it is in queue, it shall be given highest priority and when it fails to settle, the system shall generate an automatic Intra-day Liquidity Facility (ILF) backed by collateral to settle the transaction,” he wrote.

“Where there are no securities, the allotment shall be cancelled and the defaulter suspended from all auctions for eight weeks, effective from the date of default.

“The ILF shall be bought back or converted to Standing Lending Facility (SLF) by the participant by the close of business day, failing which it shall be automatically converted to SLF at the prevailing SLF rate plus 500 basis points.

“If any SLF is not purchased by the participant by the next business day, such participant shall not be eligible to access the CBN discount window until such outstanding obligation is settled in accordance with Section 27 of the Guidelines for the Conduct of Repurchase Transactions under the CBN Standing Facilities.

“Henceforth, all SLF must be bought back latest by 10am on the maturity date, failing which encumbered securities would be automatically rediscounted.”

With the new rules, CBN hopes to assess the quantum of liquidity in each bank and identify banks that are having liquidity challenges.

The CBN also hopes it may help banks to desist from unethical practices.

CBN to lend money to banks at rate of 14 per cent

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday retained the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 per cent.It is the rate at which the CBN lends money to deposit money banks in the country.

According to the apex bank, the need to watch and re-assess the challenges that confronted the economy in 2016 and the opportunities for recovery in 2017 informed its decision against calls by some stakeholders for a cut in the rates to engender credit as a means of spurring national growth.

Accordingly, it maintained all the policy rates at their subsisting levels: MPR at 14 per cent; Cash Reserve Requirement (CRR) at 22.5 per cent; and Liquidity Ratio at 30.00 per cent. The bank retained the asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

Executive Director, Corporate Finance at BGL Capital Limited, Femi Ademola, said with all the rates kept on hold, the retention would sustain the high yield in the fixed income market, which the government mostly patronises through its risk-free securities, while funds for productive activities may even go higher.

The last time there was a change in the policy rate was around July last year when the MPR was moved from 13 per cent to 14 per cent as part of tightening measures to check inflation or excess liquidity in the country.

Addressing newsmen at the end of the Monitoring Policy Committee (MPC) meeting yesterday where the decisions were taken, CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who also announced that the country’s foreign reserves had grown to a new height of $28.9 billion, gave more reasons to support the committee’s decision.

“Conscious of the prevailing market sentiments in favour of a rate cut, the committee reasoned that most of its decisions in 2016 were informed by the need to address the delicate balance between price stability and growth. Noting that the pressures on consumer prices were yet to abate and even as the economy continued to be in recession despite the intervention support by the CBN, the committee stressed that it was not oblivious of the full ramifications of the economic challenges facing the country,“ he said.

The MPC, Emefiele explained, was concerned that the current situation was not amenable to simplistic analyses and quick fixes such as have found expression and increased attention at different fora and the media. He pointed out that the domestic economic challenges which include chronically import-dependent consumption culture, lack of competitiveness of many sectors of the economy and yawning infrastructural gap, have combined with an unfavorable external environment to complicate the macroeconomic policy environment.

But a development economist, Mr. Odilim Enwegbera flayed the inability of the CBN to cut down rates, saying the apex bank was prolonging Nigeria’s quick recovery from recession

Enwegbara said this is the time for CBN to have loosen grip on the measures, pointing out that at a time of recession, all the economic throttles should be accelerated in a way that forces the entire economy to pick up speed.

“It is by this push that all the sectors of the economy could come on board. But there is no better accelerator of the economic engine than the monetary policy of the country’s central bank. That’s why whenever modern economies are hit by recession, the two things their respective central banks do are to quickly reduce interest rates and inject more liquidity into the economy.”

Meanwhile, some civil society groups and experts have said that the expected change in the economy is yet to be realised.The verdict, which took into consideration the national budgeting processes and its implementations, according to them, has maintained the same tradition that has impinged on its performance.

At the 2017 civil society summit on federal budget in Abuja, yesterday, the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, pointed out that budgets over the years have failed the test of physical proofs capable of lifting the economy.

Warning of its failures in connection with exchange rate benchmark, he noted that the quest for elusive foreign investments has shifted all attention away from measures needed to sustain domestic investments and businesses that are already providing jobs.

Source: Guardian

Intervention funds: Don’t charge above 9%, CBN warns banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Wednesday warned Deposit Money Banks participating in the disbursement of its intervention funds to different critical sectors against charging above the approved nine per cent interest rate.

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, gave the warning during an interaction between the Presidential Task Force on Agricultural Commodities and Production and young farmers.

The governor assured the young farmers of the CBN’s funding support through their respective banks, and urged them to report any lender that charged them above nine per cent interest on loans guaranteed by the apex bank.

He also assured the young farmers that Development Finance Officers from the CBN were readily available to assist them on how to access credit from the various intervention funds in order to guarantee employment, create wealth and meet the country’s food needs.

Emefiele, according to a statement from the CBN, also urged the young farmers to take advantage of the apex bank’s Youth Entrepreneurship Development Programme as well as the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Fund.

These, he noted, would help to create wealth and reduce the huge level of unemployment in the country.

Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, assured the youth of the Federal Government’s support in their quest to make legitimate earnings from agriculture.

Ogbeh, who frowned on the spate of importation of goods that could be easily produced in Nigeria, expressed confidence in the ability of the youth to produce agricultural commodities that would earn the country the much-needed foreign exchange.

He also commended the efforts of the CBN governor, who he noted was very concerned about the import bills of the country, particularly as it had to do with rice importation.

In his comment, the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, said his administration would partner the CBN and do all within available resources to fund the agricultural sector.

NNPC, Shell sign MoUs with 8 Nigerian banks.

Shell Companies in Nigeria, supported by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, have signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with eight Nigerian banks under the refreshed Shell Contractors’ Support Fund, the latest milestone in efforts to improve access to finance for Nigerian vendors and suppliers in the oil and gas industry.

Under the MoUs signed in Lagos in November, Access Bank, Skye Bank, Zenith Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank, First Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, First City Monument Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank have set aside $2.2billion for contract execution by Nigerian firms.

The scheme provides support for contractors to enable them finance projects executed for Shell Companies in Nigeria in line with the aspirations of the Nigerian Content Act. To access these funds, the contractors must have a valid purchase order and meet the banks’ risk assessment criteria. This refreshed version is in response to market realities and will offer loans faster and at cheaper rates.

“Supporting SMEs under this scheme is for the mutual benefit all the parties,” said Osagie Okunbor, Managing Director of The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd (SPDC) and Country Chair, Shell Companies in Nigeria at the signing ceremony in Lagos.

“While the scheme reduces the pressure from requests for advance payments from contractors on us, it also ensures optimum delivery by our contractors, leaving the banks with a de-risked client base in addition to the comfort of domiciliation of payments.”

The Finance Manager, Nigeria and Gabon, Guy Janssens, added that funding is key to enable contractors deliver and grow. He also urged the banks to make the scheme work.

The Managing Director, Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) Bayo Ojulari, advised the contractors to perform in order build trust and grow.

The Group General Manager, NAPIMS, Dafe Sejebo, who was represented by Bunmi Lawson, implored the banks to make the loan facilities available to the vendors when they come for them.

In the same vein, the Chairman of the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria, PETAN, Mazi Okoroafor, enjoined the banks to be realistic in their demands in order to engender easier access to the funds.

Responding, one of the contractors, Moritz Abazie of Strides Energy and Maritime Limited, requested that the rates charged should be comparable to that for credit sourced overseas so that they could fairly compete with foreign firms in bidding for jobs.

The idea of a Contractor Funding Scheme started in 2011 with the Shell Kobo Fund, which gave rise to the Shell Contractor Support Fund in 2012. The scheme has been redesigned to address the current economic exigencies and to align it with stakeholder needs by merging the two initial initiatives. To date, the six participating banks have disbursed a total of $1 billion to over 220 vendors.

In 2015, 93 per cent of all contracts awarded by Shell Companies in Nigeria were undertaken by Nigerian companies amounting to $0.9 billion.

Nigerians borrow more as domestic debt of banks hit N13.8trn

Borrowings by individuals and corporate entities from banking institutions have increased due to the economic recession, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

Many now find it difficult to purchase their usual consumables, leading to increased demand for personal loans.

Topping the list of the increased borrowing are housing and personal loans to support basic necessities like feeding, school fees, repairs and other household miscellaneous.

“Households’ demand for house purchase lending, unsecured credit card lending and unsecured overdraft/personal loans increased in Q3. Corporate lending also increased across all firms’ sizes. These are expected to increase further in the Q4,” the report said.

Secured loan performance, as measured by default rates worsened in Q3, with attendant losses to banks and expectations of improvement in Q4.

Meanwhile, the oil and gas sector’s indebtedness to the banks increased from a N3.2 billion level during the first quarter of 2015 to N4.9 billion in the third quarter of 2016.

This is just a part of private sector indebtedness to the banking sector in the period under review.

The NBS, in its third quarter 2016 Private Sector Banking Credit, showed that banking debt portfolio at the end of the third quarter (Q3) of 2016 is N13.8 trillion. Power and energy industry and services, which are currently struggling to fund their projects, are also increasing their respective obligations.

Private sector credit flow represents the net amount of liabilities (for the instruments debt securities and loans) that have been incurred in various sectors.

Specifically, the oil and gas industry indebtedness rose by N3.6 billion, while the service segment increase was put at N1.2 billion in the period under review. Other high-profile debt increases include the manufacturing, N2.2 billion; mining and quarrying, N27.3 million; construction, N631.5 million; trade/general commerce, N973 million; and real estate, N760.2 million.

Finance, insurance and capital market debt recorded N933.4 million; education N89.3 million; information and communication, N957 million; and transport and storage, N459.2 million.

For example, about 15 energy companies in the country collectively owed bank a total of N380.76 billion, which has translated to a non-performing loan.

Speaking on his company’s indebtedness to banks, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Egbin Power Plc, Dallas Peavey Jr., said the company owes banks $325 million (N99.13 billion).

He noted that the scarcity of dollars had continued to take a toll on the company’s operations.

Speaking on the implication of such bank exposure to the oil and gas companies, an economic expert and Director-General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Muda Yusuf yesterday said that the credit risk outlook for these two sectors were not positive due to attacks on oil installations.

The LCCI chief noted that the recovery of the oil and gas sector would depend largely on the progress made in the curbing of the attacks on oil installations as well as the outlook for oil price.

Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan, Adeola Adenikinju, blamed the power sector’s indebtedness to banks on the technical and economic losses that remained unacceptably high in the sector.

The don maintained that many government agencies, powerful individuals and organisations were also indebted to the power companies, thereby, worsening the plight of the industry and limiting their ability to meet their obligations to the banks.

Why banks suspended payment card use abroad.

FACTS emerged on Tuesday that banks in the country decided to stop their naira debit cards from working abroad after the Central Bank of Nigeria asked them to adopt the interbank foreign exchange rate as the basis for charging customers for foreign currency-denominated transactions.

Deposit Money Banks, including Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, had on Friday announced the suspension of the cash withdrawal from Automatic Teller Machines and PoS terminal transactions abroad using naira debit cards.

Also suspended by the banks are online transactions denominated in foreign currencies.

Top officials close to the development told our correspondent on Tuesday that the CBN had during the last Bankers’ Committee meeting held in Lagos last week directed the banks to add only N5 profit margin to the official interbank rate on all foreign exchange-related transactions carried out with naira debit and credit cards.

The development, the officials said, forced the banks to stop all foreign transactions on their payment cards.

A top official of a tier-1 bank, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said, “During the last Bankers’ Committee in Lagos, the CBN directed banks to add only N5 to the official interbank rate of N305 to the dollar, or whichever rate is prevailing at the interbank market. Banks said this was not possible because the lenders had been sourcing dollars at rates above N400 per dollar to run their card services. We could not get dollars from the interbank market.

“We have to sell at the rate we sourced it. How can we charge say N310 per dollar for something we sourced at around N400 per dollar. This is why the banks decided that rather than lose, we should just stop it. The CBN has given the directive and we have to cope, because we will give returns. So, rather than being found wanting, it is better to stop the forex transactions on our naira debit cards.”

The decision of the banks to stop foreign currency-related transactions on naira debit cards has affected intending travellers and the sUnited Kingdom and Canadian visa applicants, with many of them finding it difficult to pay for their visa applications online with naira debit cards.

Sources told our correspondent on Tuesday that the CBN had wanted banks to stop dollar transactions on naira debit cards, arguing that only few Nigerians travelled abroad to use their naira debit cards to withdraw dollars and shop.

“I think it is a strategy by the CBN to reduce the dollar demand. They think if they reduce demand for dollar, the exchange rate will come down. They know that if they ask banks to add just N5 to the official interbank rate as their fees, many of us will not be able to cope and we will back down,” a top official in another tier-1 bank said.

The decision by some of the banks to suspend naira debit card usage overseas and online forex transactions came barely one week after the CBN had raised concerns about what it called the indiscriminate and suspicious manner in which some bank customers were spending dollars and other foreign currencies abroad through their naira debit cards.

Consequently, the regulator said it had concluded that bank customers who spent above the $50,000 annual forex limit it imposed would be barred from the nation’s forex market.

The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, stated this after the 329th Bankers’ Committee meeting in Lagos on Wednesday.

She said, “In the CBN’s move to manage the demand for forex, there was a rule that people were not allowed to withdraw more than $50,000 annually on their naira debit cards.

“For a while, the policy has been abused by bank customers, and the CBN has not taken any step to that effect. We have decided to take the step now to enforce the rule. So, we want members of the public to remember that that rule is in place.

“All your accounts are linked to a particular Bank Verification Number. Now, that the BVN only allows you to withdraw only $50,000 per annum, if people continue to breach that rule, they will lose access to the forex market.”

On Wednesday, the country’s external reserves hit an 11-year low of $24.21bn, according to data posted on the CBN website.

This means a limited amount of dollars will be available at the official interbank spot market, fuelling concerns over another round of depreciation of the naira.

The foreign exchange reserves fell by $600m in two weeks before shedding $1bn in four weeks, the CBN statistics showed.

Dollar Scarcity: Banks Suspend ATM Card Usage Abroad

The foreign exchange crisis hitting the economy has assumed a new dimension with Deposit Money Banks announcing the suspension of overseas Automated Teller Machine card services and online transactions denominated in foreign currencies, OYETUNJI ABIOYE writes

Deposit Money Banks have begun suspending their Automated Teller Machine cards (debit and credit) from working overseas as dollar scarcity continues to hit the economy badly.

Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria and Guaranty Trust Bank on Friday announced the suspension of their overseas ATM card services.

Also suspended by the banks are online transactions priced in foreign currencies. This means that customers of the banks will no longer be able to use their debit or credit cards to make online transactions that are denominated in dollars, euros, pounds sterling and other foreign currencies.

In a note to its customers on Friday entitled: ‘Suspension of international transactions on naira debit cards’, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria said, “Please be informed that effective immediately, your naira denominated debit cards will no longer be functional for international transactions.

“This is due to the current volatility in the foreign exchange market. Your naira-denominated debit cards can only be used for local transactions at Point of Sale terminals, Automated Teller Machines and online for Nigerian retailers.”

In a text message to its customers on Friday, Stanbic IBTC Bank similarly said, “Dear customer, kindly note that effective October 18, 2016, your ability to carry out transactions priced in foreign currency using our naira debit and credit cards will be suspended. We apologise for any inconvenience in this regard.”

Both Stanbic IBTC Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria advised customers seeking to carry out transactions denominated in foreign exchange to apply for dollar or pounds sterling debit credit cards. According to them, the dollar or pounds sterling debit or credit cards will be linked to the customers’ domiciliary accounts.

GTBank also announced the suspension of the ATM cash withdrawal service abroad. The lender also slashed its monthly ATM forex transactions to $100.

In a notice to customers on Friday entitled: ‘Review of the international spending limit on your naira Master Card’, the bank stated, “We write to inform you of the monthly spending limits currently applicable when using your GTBank naira Master Card for international payments via PoS and online. Previous monthly limit via PoS and online was $250; the new monthly limit via PoS and online is now $100. Kindly note that ATM cash withdrawal on your naira MasterCard is now only available in Nigeria.”

The development will make students studying in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Ukraine and other parts of the world to face more challenges getting their monthly stipends from their parents.

Most of the students had relied on the ATM card withdrawal to get their monthly stipends from their parents before now.

This means customers seeking to do foreign transactions will have to open domiciliary accounts and fund same with dollars, pounds or euros purchased from the parallel market at the prevailing exchange rates.

Although other banks have yet to announce the suspension of ATM card services abroad, findings by our correspondent showed that many lenders had reduced drastically the amount that customers could withdraw via ATMs abroad.

This is despite the fact that the banks have in the past few months reduced the monthly total amount of forex-denominated transactions that customers can do, using their naira debit or credit cards via ATMs and PoS terminals abroad as well as online payments or transactions.

As of last week, findings showed that some banks had slashed their daily ATM withdrawal limit abroad from the $300 advised by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Bankers Committee to $100 due to their inability to source for dollars to fund the transactions.

Unconfirmed sources said some banks had reduced their monthly ATM withdrawal limit abroad to $100.

Top banking officials close to the development told our correspondent under the condition of anonymity that banks were increasingly finding it difficult to fund their foreign-currency denominated services, especially online forex transactions and overseas ATM withdrawals, as well as PoS usage overseas by customers.

A top official of Deposit Money Bank, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told our correspondent on Sunday, “We have to stop the services. Formerly, we were sourcing forex at high prices and we were selling same to customers at similarly high prices. But the situation is now tense; the dollar scarcity has assumed a new dimension.

“This is coupled with the fact that some bank customers are using the platforms to do round-tripping. It is high time we stopped it.”

The decision by some banks to suspend overseas ATM card services and online forex transactions came barely one week after the CBN, through the Bankers’ Committee, raised concerns about what it called the indiscriminate and suspicious manner in which some bank customers were spending dollars and other foreign currencies abroad through their naira debit cards.

Consequently, the regulator said it had concluded that bank customers who spent above the $50,000 annual forex limit it imposed would be barred from the nation’s forex market.

The Director, Banking Supervision, CBN, Mrs. Tokunbo Martins, stated this after the 329th Bankers’ Committee meeting held at the apex bank’s office in Lagos on Wednesday.

She said, “In the CBN’s move to manage the demand for forex, there was a rule that was put in place that people were not allowed to withdraw more than $50,000 annually on their naira debit cards.

“For a while, the policy has been abused by bank customers, and the CBN has not taken any step to that effect. We have decided to take the step now to enforce the rule. So, we want members of the public to remember that that rule is in place.

“All your accounts are linked to a particular Bank Verification Number. Now, that the BVN only allows you to withdraw only $50,000 per annum, if people continue to breach that rule, they will lose access to forex market.”

Dollar scarcity has been ravaging the economy after the price of crude oil, Nigeria’s main forex earner.

It crashed from $110 per barrel to around $44 per barrel from June 2014.

The nation’s foreign exchange reserves have been depleting since then.

On Wednesday, the country’s external reserves hit an 11-year low of $24.21bn, the latest data posted on the CBN website showed.

This means a limited amount of dollars will be available at the official interbank spot market, fuelling concerns over another round of depreciation of the naira.

The foreign exchange reserves fell by $600m in two weeks before shedding $1bn in four weeks, the CBN statistics showed.

An expert at Ernst and Young, Mr. Bisi Sanda, lamented on the dollar pressure on the economy.

He said the Federal Government needed political will to address the issues fuelling dollar scarcity on the economy.

He said, “The issue of dollar is very important to the economy. It is predicated on the fact that we are a dollar-denominated economy. It appears the government is still begging issues as far as the import-dependent state of our economy is concerned.

“We need to fix issues, we need to go back to the drawing board. The CBN said between 2010 and 2016, a total of $11bn was sold to the Bureaux De Change annually. We need to plug leakages in this area.”

Nigerian Banking Industry Seen In ‘Full-Blown’ Credit Crisis – Bloomberg

Nigeria’s banking industry is experiencing a “full-blown financial crisis” as failed fiscal and monetary policies lead to a credit crunch, according to Arqaam Capital.

Unity Bank Plc and Skye Bank Plc are close to being insolvent, while lenders FBN Holdings Plc and Sterling Bank Plc “will need a dilutive capital hike,” Jaap Meijer and Tarek Sleiman, analysts at the Dubai-based investment bank and brokerage, said in an e-mailed note on Monday.

Capital ratios are set to worsen because of currency depreciation and souring loans, they said. Calls to Unity weren’t immediately returned and Skye didn’t reply to questions.

The central bank in July replaced the management of Skye after the lender breached liquidity thresholds, spurring concerns about the health of small- and medium-sized lenders, and reviving memories of bank rescues by the government after the financial crisis in 2009.

Nigerian banks are grappling with a devaluation of the naira, rising bad loans and an oil-dependent economy that’s set to record its first annual contraction in more than two decades.

“Our acid test reveals seven under-capitalized banks” with a deficit of as much as 1 trillion naira ($3.2 billion) in the financial system, Meijer and Sleiman said. A stress test identified FBN as the most under capitalized lender with Unity, Diamond Bank Plc, Skye, FCMB Group Plc, Sterling and Fidelity Bank Plc also showing deficits if they were to fully provide for non-performing loans, according to Arqaam.

“Our bank is strong,” Ikechukwu Mike Omeife, a spokesman for Diamond Bank, said by phone from Lagos. “Our capital-adequacy ratio and non-performing loans are within the statutory requirements.”

Common Challenges

Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday that Nigeria’s five biggest banks share common credit challenges related to the economic slowdown.

Moody’s expects non-performing loans to increase to about 12 percent over the next 12 months. The ratio of non-performing loans to total credit rose to 11.7 percent at the end of June from 5.3 percent at the end of 2015, the Abuja-based Central Bank of Nigeria, which requires banks keep the measure below 5 percent, said in a report on its website.

The five largest lenders, which together hold 57 percent of the country’s banking assets, “are able to absorb all losses under our severe stress scenario,” Moody’s said. Guaranty Trust Bank Plc showed “the greatest resilience” and the other four banks were Zenith Bank Plc, Access Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Ltd., the ratings company said.

To create a capital buffer, Sterling Bank is planning to issue a 27 billion-naira bond and “if the interest rate looks better, we will do it this year,” Abubakar Suleiman, the lender’s chief financial officer, said by phone. “We will do it if the rate goes down to around 15 percent or 16 percent. We don’t want to raise it at a very high rate. If we do it, it will take our capital adequacy ratio to over 15 percent.”

Some Buys

Arqaam rates FBN, Skye, Sterling, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Unity and Ecobank Transnational Inc. as sell, according to the analysts’ report. Zenith, Access and United Bank are rated buy.

Central Bank of Nigeria’s spokesman Isaac Okorafor didn’t immediately answer his phone or respond to text messages. Diamond, Unity and Fidelity didn’t answer calls. Moses Obajemu, a Lagos-based spokesman for Skye, didn’t immediately reply to questions sent to him by text message, as per his request.

Diamond, Fidelity, Wema Bank Plc, FCMB Group Plc, United Bank and Skye recorded declines in Lagos, with Zenith ranking as the most traded stock among the 171 securities on the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index.

Diamond Bank fell 5.5 percent, Fidelity dropped 4.3 percent, Skye Bank slid 4.6 percent and Unity slipped 4.1 percent. Union Bank Nigeria Plc, which is part owned by London-based Atlas Mara Ltd., was the second-biggest gainer, rising 5 percent.

Reps probe ‘extortion’ through N65 ATM charges

House of Representatives has begun moves to investigate the alleged extortion of customers through the N65 ATM charges by commercial banks in the country.

It, has therefore, directed its committee on Banking and Currency, to investigate same and other such related charges by the commercial banks.

The resolution followed a motion under matters of urgent public importance moved by Hon. Tijani Yusuf, (PDP-Kogi), which was unanimously adopted by members through a voice votes by members.

According to him, commercial banks across the country had been extorting customers with N65 deducted from every bank transaction, while the Central Bank of Nigeria failed to act.

He recalled that recently, banks in the United Kingdom (UK) were asked to pay customers monies considered to have been illegally deducted from customers’ accounts as charges.

Also, in his contribution, contribution, Hon. Aminu Suleiman accused the Central Bank of Nigeria of not discharging its responsibilities as regulator of the banking sector.

The motion has been referred to the concerned committee; Banking and Currency for further legislative action, and to report its findings back within four weeks.

Nigerian banks not encouraging investment in shipping — Orakwusi

Former National President of the Nigerian Trawler Owners Association, NITOA, Margaret Orakwusi, has accused Nigerian banks of not encouraging investment in the shipping industry with their high interest rates.

Orakwusi made this known at the Taiwo Afolabi annual maritime conference hosted by the Maritime Forum of the University of Lagos. She said banks are not interested in long term investment but short term ones that can guaranty quick returns.

She attributed lack of interest in funding shipping operations in Nigeria to poor security in Nigerian waters. “We still talk about sea piracy, we still talk about smugglers. Every investor needs security and finance. Banks are not interested in long-term investment. Investment in shipping is not cash and carry business, you buy a vessel amounting to millions then Nigerian banks will ask you to pay interest of about 20 to 30 percent over that long period. You spend the whole of your lifetime working for banks.

“I think another big problem is getting cheap finance, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, is working on it. He has identified the huge gap in indigenous ownership of vessels and has set up a committee to look into it and advise him.

“Now it is sad if we do not encourage him in the growth of the Nigerian fleet. A lot of people misunderstand it and call it a Nigerian shipping line. It is wrong for anybody to see that and say he is going to fail.”

She frowned at the fact that Nigeria has remained an import dependent nation and stressed the need for government to begin to exploit the goods that are exportable.

“I don’t think we should forever remain a consuming nation, who is consuming our own goods? What that means is that we need to highlight our resources, we need to produce our own goods, we need to provide employment in this country, we cannot forever remain an import driven economy.

“I believe we should generate our cargo; we should carry our cargo and we should provide services. When you talk about maritime transportation, everyone knows how it affects us.

It affects us as lawyers; they have robbed us as lawyers of effective participation in drawing up agreement that helps our environment go forward because with increase in Nigerian fleet, we will have jobs.

Banks To Close Branches As Recession Bites Hard.

A number of Deposit Money Banks in the country will close many of what they described as unprofitable branches as the economic recession continues to bite harder, investigation by our correspondent has shown.

It was similarly gathered that most of the banks would lay off hundreds of workers between now and December.

The revelation came barely 24 hours after Unity Bank Plc laid off about 300 workers, more than the 220 that was mentioned last week.

Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank and Skye Bank Plc had earlier in the year sacked over 3,000 members of their workforce.

It was learnt that following the economic downturn in the country, a number of bank branches could no longer justify their existence as cost analysis had shown that the financial institutions were spending more on salaries and overheads than the income from the branches.

Some top bank executives, who confirmed the development to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity on Monday, said some lenders might be forced to relieve more workers of their duties before the end of this year.

An executive director in one of the banks that recently asked some of its workers to go said, “We have laid off some of our staff members but that it still not enough. Many branches are just existing for the sake of being there. They are not generating enough income. What they are bringing in is far less than what the bank is incurring as costs on them.

“We may have to close such branches before the year ends. I know a number of other banks that are planning something similar.”

Commenting on the development, an ex-banker and Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, described branch closure as an ongoing action in the banking sector, especially in times of economic downturn.

He, however, noted that banks were required to notify the Central Bank of Nigeria before closing any branch.

“It is an ongoing administrative thing in the banking industry. Banks will want to rationalise branches, especially in a difficult economy. Banks are planning to cut costs. Branch rationalisation is normal but the CBN has to be notified,” Chukwu explained.

The banking sector has been facing a number of challenges following the downturn in economic activities.

The slowdown in the economy, which has led to a high rate of non-performing loans in the banking system, made four lenders to lose at least N17bn in profits in the first quarter of this year.

Specifically, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Unity Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc recorded a combined decline of N17bn in their profits before tax for the three months ended March 31, 2016, when compared with the corresponding period of 2015, according to the results of the financial institutions posted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

When compared with the PBT of N30.52bn, N32.65bn, N4.26bn and N7.94bn recorded by the banks in the first quarter of 2015, the combined PBT of the four banks dropped by N17bn from N75.4bn in the first quarter of last year to N58.4bn in the same period of this year.

While Ecobank’s PBT fell from N30.52bn in the first quarter of 2015 to N20.63bn in a similar period of this year, GTBank’s dropped from N32.65bn to N30.68bn. That of Unity Bank dropped from N4.26bn to N1.05bn, while Diamond Bank’s came down from N7.94bn to N6.04bn.

In terms of their profit after tax, the four banks recorded a decline of N14bn.

Banks in the country had been posting sharp increases in profits before tax and profits after tax since 2011 after the establishment of the Asset Management of Corporation of Nigeria in 2010 following the banking sector crisis in 2009.

However, consistent drop in the global prices of crude oil, Nigeria’s main foreign exchange earner, since June 2014, caused banks’ profits to start declining at the end of 2015.

Majority of the 15 banks listed on the NSE recorded declines in their full-year profits in the 2015 financial year. However, a few ones such as Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc and GTBank outperformed the market despite sizeable volume of bad loans.

In the first quarter of 2016, 13 out of the 15 banks posted a combined PBT of N135.36bn, compared to N148bn in the corresponding period of last year.

Similarly, the 13 banks posted profits after tax of N116.6bn in the first quarter of 2016, compared to N126.4bn in the first quarter of 2015.

The 13 banks are Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, GTBank, FCMB Limited, Sterling Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, UBA Plc, Unity Bank, Wema Bank Plc, Union Bank Plc and Zenith Bank Plc.

Skye Bank Plc and Stanbic IBTC Bank have yet to release their full-year 2015 and first-quarter 2016 financial results.

An economic analyst and Head, Investment Advisory, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, said the declining profit in the financial services sector was a reflection of the challenges facing the Nigerian economy.

Banks To Close Branches As Recession Bites Hard

A number of Deposit Money Banks in the country will close many of what they described as unprofitable branches as the economic recession continues to bite harder, investigation by our correspondent has shown.

It was similarly gathered that most of the banks would lay off hundreds of workers between now and December.

The revelation came barely 24 hours after Unity Bank Plc laid off about 300 workers, more than the 220 that was mentioned last week.

Diamond Bank Plc, Ecobank and Skye Bank Plc had earlier in the year sacked over 3,000 members of their workforce.

It was learnt that following the economic downturn in the country, a number of bank branches could no longer justify their existence as cost analysis had shown that the financial institutions were spending more on salaries and overheads than the income from the branches.

Some top bank executives, who confirmed the development to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity on Monday, said some lenders might be forced to relieve more workers of their duties before the end of this year.

An executive director in one of the banks that recently asked some of its workers to go said, “We have laid off some of our staff members but that it still not enough. Many branches are just existing for the sake of being there. They are not generating enough income. What they are bringing in is far less than what the bank is incurring as costs on them.

Read More:

http://punchng.com/banks-close-branches-recession-bites-hard/

FG to probe banks for non-remittance of taxes

The Federal Government is set to appoint about 150 firms as consultants to probe revenues collected by banks on behalf of the Nigeria Customs Service and the Federal Inland Revenue Service between July 2012 and December 2015.

This is sequel to a probe of the revenues collected by the banks between January 2008 and June 2012, which revealed that the banks failed to remit N12bn that they collected in taxes and duties on behalf of the government revenue agencies.

Following the success of the first exercise, the National Economic Council at its meeting on April 21 directed the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to appoint consultants to ensure wide coverage in the verification of the activities of the banks.

Following the approval granted by the council, the RMAFC proceeded to advertise for the consultancy job in the July 24 edition of the Federal Tenders Journal.

Investigation showed that more than 150 consultants applied for the job. While many companies will be appointed, one of them will serve as the lead consultant. Each of the consulting firms will report to the lead consultant.

It was learnt that government decided to appoint a large number of consultants to ensure the coverage of most of the branches of the banks across the country.

Finance authorities believe that the first exercise would have revealed more gaps between what the banks collected and what they remitted if more consultants had been hired. The first exercise was based on samples of the branches of the banks.

It was also gathered that the consultants would be paid 15 per cent of whatever they unravelled as unremitted funds from the books of the banks in the belief that this form of remuneration would encourage them to do a thorough job.

It was gathered that almost all the firms that applied to carry out the verification of the banks’ books would be hired.

During the first phase of the exercise, JK Consulting Company Limited served as the lead consultant.

Speaking on the first report, the Chairman, Non-oil Committee of the RMAFC, Ajibola Fagboyegun, insisted that the collecting banks must return the over N12bn, which they failed to remit to the government coffers between 2008 and 2012.

CBN Re-instates Banks Banned From Foreign Exchange Market

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has re-instated all the banks that were banned from the foreign exchange market, the Director, Banking Supervision, Mrs Tokunbo Martins, has said.

She said this on Wednesday in Abuja at a media briefing, stating that the decision was reached after a series of meetings with the body of bank Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

“Well, we have had engagements with the body of CEOs and they have been interacting amongst themselves and I am happy to tell you today that the banks that were hitherto banned have been released from the ban.

“And the reason is because all of the banks after discussions and engagements under the auspices of the body of CEOs and the CIBN have all submitted credible repayment plans which we the CBN found acceptable.

“So as a result of that, all those banks have been re-instated in the foreign exchange market.’’

The CIBN President, Prof. Segun Ajibola, said that the institute was very much interested in what was happening among all the industry players.

He added that under the aegis of the institute, the body of bank CEOs was now a formidable platform to look at issues that were pertinent to the industry and the economy, to ensure that stakeholders’ interest was protected.

“We will protect the interests of all our stakeholders and especially the bigger picture, which is Nigeria and its economy as a whole.

“So it is a happy development and I believe this will further help to strengthen our system and our economy.’’

The Managing Director of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe, said that the body of bank CEOs under the under the auspices of the CIBN, aims to get banks to work together.

Read More:

http://guardian.ng/news/cbn-re-instates-banks-banned-from-foreign-exchange-market/

Banks Banned From Forex Deals Allege Cover-up By CBN

Banks accused of not remitting the $2.3 billion belonging to the Federal Government into the Treasury Single Account (TSA) have alleged a cover-up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

They alleged that the apex bank is shielding some of their peers, which they claim are equally guilty of the same offence.

The affected banks, which have been banned from further foreign exchange transactions, include United Bank for Africa (UBA), $530million; First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), $469million; Diamond Bank Plc, $287million; Sterling Bank Plc, $269million; Skye Bank Plc, $221million; Fidelity Bank, $209million; Keystone Bank, $139million; First City Monument Bank, (FCMB) $125million; and Heritage Bank, $85million.

According to a source from one of the indicted banks, there are at least six others that the authorities are shielding. According to him, those banks were also present when the parties first negotiated the terms of repayment last year and earlier this year.

The source says there is no way banks can have possession of such an amount, no matter who owns the money, and not spend it. “The problem is that the foreign exchange (forex) challenges caught up with it and that is why it is open now.”

The source said that almost all the banks’ chiefs were on their way for an emergency meeting with officials of the CBN.

In its reaction to the ban, UBA stated that it had “completely remitted all NNPC, NLNG dollar deposits.” The bank claimed yesterday that it had been readmitted into the forex market by the CBN following remittance of all NNPC, NLNG dollar deposits.

Diamond Bank Plc, in a message to stakeholders, rationalised the punishment for refusal to remit the government’s fund as industry-wide, while it is currently engaging the regulator to resolve it.

A source from Fidelity Bank said the status of the funds in its possession was well reported to CBN, including the agreed timeline for its remittance to the TSA.

The source also affirmed that the repayment plans had always been complied with, even before the takeoff of the TSA and remained ongoing before CBN placed the ban on the bank.

It noted that if there was any change in remittance plans, it was because NNPC had invited banks earlier this year, where they were asked to submit a revised repayment plan for the balance of the funds.

First Bank also said that the now controversial dollar accounts belonging to the NNPC were fully disclosed to the CBN, and were being operated in line with the regulatory requirements.

It said that a tripartite documented discussion had been ongoing among the CBN, NNPC and the bank, on the need for domestic retention of those balances as part of measures to ameliorate challenges posed by the lack of foreign exchange, and customer’s inability to source it for their trade finance obligations to the bank.

Reiterating that the non-remittance of funds to the TSA “is actually a widespread industry issue,” FCMB, in a statement yesterday, clarified that the ban on future forex transactions was based on its “non-transfer of the remaining $125million of NNPC fund with us to TSA.”

Meanwhile, the CBN’s action is already taking its toll on the banking stocks, as shares of the affected banks have plunged significantly.

At the close of transactions yesterday, the demand for banking stocks reduced significantly with a free fall in the share prices. For instance, shares in Diamond Bank fell the most, shedding 8.94 percent to close at N1.12 per share from N1.23.00 at which it opened for the day’s transactions. FCMB followed, shedding five per cent to close at N1.14 per share.

Sterling Bank dropped 2.91 per cent to close at N1.00 per share. Access Bank depreciated by 2.59 per cent to close at N5.65 per share. United Bank for Africa lost 1.55 per cent to close at N4.46 per share, just ass Skye Bank shed 1.54 per cent to close at N0.64 per share from initial N0.65.00.

Also, Zenith Bank lost 1.08 per cent to close at N15.59 per share while Fidelity Bank dropped 0.99 per cent to close at N1.00 per share. FBN Holdings also lost 0.32 per cent to close at N3.16 per share.

CBN Conducts Stress Tests On Banks

To assess the strength of the nation’s banks, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is currently conducting stress tests on them. But depositors need not worry. The tests are routine, according to stakeholders.

Top-ranking sources in the banks said yesterday: “The CBN is conducting liquidity ratio and capital adequacy tests to determine how strong the banks are.”

The sources disclosed that “examiners have been sent to all the banks to conduct the tests and the outcome will be made public in a matter of weeks.”

Depending on the outcome of the tests, they said the CBN could take a number of measures, including a takeover of the weak banks or a change of the management.

Although there was no official confirmation from the CBN, a source, who neither denied nor confirmed the tests, said “Usually such tests are done to get certain information about a bank.”

The Chief Executive, First Registrars, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi, said there would be no need for a takeover of any bank. To him, “the best the CBN could do is to intervene. This is what they did in the case of Skye Bank; they didn’t take over. They removed the former executives so that new hands can come in. No bank died and no depositor lost his funds.”

Olugbemi advised that “People should give them (CBN) the benefit of the doubt; if they say there is no problem then there is no problem. But there is still a need for them to carry out a check, to nip the issue in the bud in case there is any problem.”

The registrar added: “Liquidity ratio and capital adequacy test is a routine check and one of the responsibilities of CBN, apart from the fact that they inspect the banks on yearly basis, together with the NDIC (Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation). I believe what CBN is saying is that there is no bank that has liquidity issues, because they are the ones in charge.”

Also commenting, the Deputy Managing Director, Afrinvest Capital, Mr. Victor Ndukauba, noted that due to systemic exposure, “the CBN can’t just come out to say there’s an issue with one or two banks, to avoid causing panic or a run on the banks by depositors.

“CBN examinations are routine and they happen fairly often, so I wouldn’t say it is out of the ordinary. I know one of such examiners and he has a schedule that is very unpredictable. It’s a random stress check that can happen even without the examiners themselves knowing where they’re headed or when they’re headed. It’s been a common practice in the last four to five years.”

If a test shows negative, Ndukauba said that such a bank could fall back on inter-bank assistance through overnight lending on very low interest rate or fall back on its deposits with the CBN. He added that the CBN “may not be able to support the banks because chances are they may not even have the capacity to meet all those deposit obligations should they actually crystallise at once.”

According to him, what may impair a bank’s adequacy in the light of recent events in the economy is when its assets are not denominated in United States dollar but it grants loan in dollar to a borrower, which is captured in its books in naira. “There is a transmission gain in value on the basis of that loan made out. So if it has about $100 million in loans to foreign currency borrowers that it had been booking at N200 per dollar, which was the former interbank rate and therefore reflecting a N20 billion exposure, by a devaluation of say 15 or 20 per cent, automatically, the value of that loan goes up by the same margin.

“If the borrower is in a business that earns revenue in naira, there is already a dislocation of maybe 40 to 50 per cent because that business needs almost two times of the same amount in naira in order to meet up with the same obligation, where the dollar is not readily available. This can create some stress because when you’re calculating your capital adequacy ratio, your enumerator had changed and inflated by a 40 to 50 per cent factor, whereas your capital was always in naira but your denominator had expanded. That automatically lowers your capital adequacy ratio. That is one of the potential risks.”

CBN Tells Banks To Accept Cheques For Savings Accounts

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday directed banks and other financial institution to allow customers operating savings accounts to lodge in cheques.

CBN Director, Banking and Payment System Department, ‘Dipo Fatokun, who disclosed this in a circular, said savings account customers with Bank Verification Number (BVN) should be allowed to deposit cheques not more than N2 million in value into their accounts, per customer per day.

The CBN said the decision to allow cheques in savings accounts is in furtherance of its efforts at
strengthening the Nigerian payments system.

Only 2% Of Nigerians Own 90% Of Bank Deposits – NDIC

As a major indicator of wealth distribution in Nigeria across income groups, a mere two per cent of Nigerians own 90 per cent of total deposits in Nigerian banks. This represents the wide gap between the rich and the poor in Nigeria, which continues to pose major socio-economic development challenges to the nation.

 

Director of Research and International Relations at the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, NDIC, Alhaji Mohammed Umar, disclosed this at the Businessday Capital Market Development Annual Conference in Abuja, yesterday.

His words: “Our current deposit insurance coverage is N500, 000 for the Deposit Money Banks. And some people have said that it is low. I can tell you that it is very adequate for the majority of accounts. “It will interest you to know that it covers over 90 per cent of accounts in the country. Indeed, Nigerians who have more than N500, 000 in their accounts are just two per cent. Emefiele CBN Governor “What we found is that this two per cent Nigerians have 90 per cent of banks’ total deposits. Look at that – two per cent Nigerians own 90 per cent of total banks deposits, while the remaining 98 per cent have just 10 per cent of total deposits.  What that tells you is that the gap between the rich and the poor has continued in this country.”

 

Alhaji Umar added that there were about 70 million bank account holders in the country.

 

The total bank deposits stood at N17.2 trillion, as at December 2015, according to a post on the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, website.

Earlier in his address, the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo, urged Pension Fund Administrators, PFAs, to invest more in the nation’s capital market, with a view to deepening it and ensuring better returns on contributor’s funds.

He said: “Deepening Nigeria’s Capital Market through Maximum Utilization of Pension Funds is a conversation our country must continue to have in order to ensure that the impressive pool of savings we have been able to mobilize over the last decade is put to productive use for inclusive economic growth. “We are confident that with greater participation by PFAs and return of retail investors, our capital market will emerge as one of the world’s biggest and most liquid market capable of supporting the socio-economic development of our country. “We are delighted that the National Pension Commission, PenCom, has been very proactive in making the necessary adjustments to the guidelines that allow PFAs sufficient flexibility to determine their optimal strategic asset allocation. “The draft new regulation on investment of pension fund assets allow the investment of up to 30% in equities (for Fund type 1) and up to 45% in corporate debt securities (for Fund types 3 and 4). As a whole, we believe the adoption of a multi-fund structure is a very positive development that should produce economies of scale, risk diversification and further deepen the Nigerian capital market through pension portfolios and management strategies of PFAs. “There is, therefore, an urgent need for the draft guidelines on multi-fund structure to be approved. “The question is: Based on the current asset allocation by Nigerian PFAs, are they paying sufficient attention to generating the necessary returns to provide sustainable benefits to contributors? Can we say that Nigerian PFAs have achieved an optimal strategic asset allocation or explored all viable investment outlets? “March 2016 data from PenCom shows that Nigerian PFAs invest only 8.16% of their assets in the domestic listed equities market and 1.24% of their assets in foreign equities.

 

‘Credit: Vanguard

CBN Allocates $921m To Banks In One Month

As the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) continues with its rationing of the greenback, bank returns on foreign exchange utilization bought from the central bank and compiled have shown that it allocated $921,352,549 to 17 commercial banks in the country in March in order to meet the foreign exchange demand of their customers.
The computation, however, did not capture total returns of all commercial and merchant banks in country, as their reports were not made available.
It was sufficient, nonetheless, to show that actual demand for forex stood at almost $9.21 billion during the month, given that the CBN only manages to meet 10 per cent of banks’ demand for forex.
A top bank official explained that the returns were not in any way reflective of total demand by the banks on behalf of their customers, saying that what the central bank was trying to address were the backlog of forex demand.
“On average, our returns or allocations are just about 10 per cent of total demand, which means that the CBN is unable to meet forex demand on the official market.
“It is for this reason there is so much pressure on the parallel market, where businesses that are unable to get their forex requirements met through the official window turn to,” a bank CEO had explained.
Forex allocations in the month of March ranged from fuel, machinery and pharmaceuticals imports, all the way down to school fees and personal travelling allowances.
Allocations for the payment of tuition fees overseas were the most numerous items. Also, other invisibles such as business and personal travel allowances, repatriation of capital, and divestments by foreign portfolio investors from the equities and bond markets accounted for a large chunk of forex purchases, in terms of volume.
Read More: thisdaylive

Buhari: FG Will Punish Banks, Importers Caught Round-tripping

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that banks, importers and individuals involved in round-tripping of dollars they buy from the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) official market and resell in the parallel market will be made to face the law when caught.

The president gave the warning in an interview monitored on Al Jazeera television at the weekend.

Forex round-tripping or arbitrage refers to a process whereby funds obtained from the official forex market (at lower rates) and diverted to other markets and sold at a higher rate by forex dealer, banks and end users.

There has been strong suspicion that some banks and other end users that get weekly forex allocations from the CBN divert some of the dollar cash to the parallel market because of the wide gap between the official and parallel markets.

In his response to a question on alleged round-tripping in the forex market, the president said: “I agree with you, but we are going to check that and we are going to apply sanctions to anybody that is given dollars by the central bank for the importation of essential raw materials, for example pharmaceutical products, and because he can make N100 more, goes to the parallel market to sell it. We will pursue them and obviously would punish them.”

The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Ifeanyi Emefiele, recently said the central bank was on the lookout to penalise banks found in such unhealthy practice.

He also warned that if any bank was caught in the act, it is not just the institution that would be penalised, its management would also be severely punished.

Continuing, Buhari reiterated his stance against the devaluation of the naira, maintaining that “countries that play around with their currencies are countries that have enormous production capacity”.

“They have factories in place, they have infrastructure in terms of power, and their communications and security are actually perfect,” he said.

According to him, Nigeria virtually imports everything, from rice to toothpicks, adding: “If we don’t have the money for importing those things, what is the value in further devaluing the naira?”

He pointed out that in terms of the country’s exchange rate policy, national interest supersedes the interest of multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Credit: Thisday

CBN To Sanction Banks Over Hidden Charges

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) over the weekend disclosed it would penalise erring Deposit Money Banks (DMB) for fleecing bank customers with illegal charges.
Already, the bank said it has recovered about N6.2 billion of excess charges imposed on customers by banks in 2015.
A statement issued by the Director, Corporate Communications Department of CBN, Mua’zu Ibrahim, acknowledged the series of complaints from customers of DMBs alleging excessive and in some cases illegal charges by their respective banks.
He explained that the Revised Guide to Bank Charges issued by the apex bank clearly specifies allowable charges for all banking services, adding, “the CBN does not in any way condone the fleecing of bank customers under any guise.”
Ibrahim hinted that the bank was concerned about the rising number of complaints bordering on excessive bank charges, noting that in 2015 alone, the CBN investigated about 6,000 of such cases.
It said the apex bank would continue to enforce the revised guidelines on bank charges, stating that any customer who has been illegally charged should report to the Consumer Protection Department (CPD) of the CBN.
The statement read in part: “The Central Bank of Nigeria has received series of complaints from customers of Deposit Money Banks alleging excessive and in some cases illegal charges from their respective banks.
“It was in the quest to provide a strong voice to banks’ customers and moderate the arbitrary charges that the CBN in 2012, established its Consumer Protection Department.
“The CBN wishes to reiterate its resolve to continuously enforce the provision of the Revised Guide to Bank Charges and urges members of the public to report cases of infringement to enable it investigate and apply sanctions on any erring Deposit Money Bank.
“Bank customers are reminded to always forward there complaints to: Director, Consumer Protection Department; email:cpd@cbn.gov.ng.”

Credit: Sun

Punish FG Officials, Banks Over 23,000 Ghost Workers- Senate

The Senate on Thursday declared its support for the move by the Ministry of Finance to prosecute civil servants found culpable in the payment of salaries and remuneration to 23,000 ghost workers over the years.

The Chairman Senate Committee on Finance, Senator John Enoh, who said this at a budget defence session with the Ministry of Finance, asked the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, to ensure the immediate prosecution of the suspects being accused of alleged involvement in the scam.

He also urged the ministry to recover the money they had stolen.

Adeosun told the committee that her ministry would prosecute the affected workers and the banks officials who colluded with them.

Credit: Punch

Azealia Banks Arrested After Allegedly Biting The Breast Of A Female Security Guard

According to E! News rapper, Azealia Banks was arrested early Wednesday morning after allegedly assaulting a female security guard outside Meatpacking club Up&Down.
A witness at the venue said that the 24-year-old was not invited to the party but came with an invited guest.

When Azealia tried to go downstairs to the party, security turned her away and told her she had to get a stamp to enter. Azealia got upset about this, but ended up getting stamped and gained access into the private party.

Once inside, it appeared that she was offended that the security did not know who she was or
recognize her as a celebrity. This resulted in an altercation, which another insider said involved her spitting in the owner’s face, and it ultimately led to her being escorted out by the female security guard who became the victim of Banks’ alleged assault.

The New York Police Department said that at 12:46 a.m., Banks was escorted out of the venue “when she became verbally abusive and began to push the victim and bit the victim on the breast, causing swelling and redness.”

Authorities added that she “was arrested and charged with assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.”

 

Banks was released Wednesday evening after seeing the judge.

ICPC Uncovers Over N23bn Pension Funds ‘Lost’ In 40 Bank Accounts

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, has uncovered over N23billion pension funds ‘lost’ in 40 bank accounts in the country.

Chairman of the Commission, Mr. Ekpo Nta who made the disclosure yesterday, at the maiden town hall meeting of the ICPC in Makurdi, the Benue capital, said the Commission consolidated the accounts into four and was also able to recovered N496million in accrued interests on one of the accounts.


“With the intervention of ICPC the sum of N34.5 billion has been remitted to 97, 842 employees’ RSAs’’.
Represented by Member of the ICPC, Alhaji Isa Salami, he said “the Commission discovered that the National Pension Commission, PENCOM, was not remitting deductions from employees’ salaries to their respective Retirement Savings Accounts, RSAs, owing to inaccurate information.

Nta further revealed that while conducting systems review of personnel cost expenditure profile across Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs, over a period of four years, ICPC compelled the return of over N6 billion unspent balances into government treasury.

The ICPC Chairman urged Nigerians to “support the renewed onslaught against the monster called corruption because it is by so doing that we can drive down the menace and eventually eliminate it from our country.”

In his speech, Govenor Samuel Ortom who was represented by his Deputy, Mr. Benson Abounu, urged all political office holders in the country to strive to ensure that they never became guests of the ICPC after office.

Ortom regretted that the state was facing the most difficult times due to corruption and the squander of the state resources by the past government.

In their separate speeches, the Tor Tiv, Chief Alfred Torkuka and Ochi Idoma, Elias Obekpa pledged the support of the traditional rulers in the state in the fight against corruption in the country. uncovers over N23billion pension funds ‘lost’ in 40 bank accounts

Reps Accuse Banks Of Promoting Prostitution

The House of Representatives yesterday accused banks of encouraging prostitution by setting unrealistic targets for their female marketers. It also decried casualisation in the industry, describing it as slavery.

Hon. Segun Alexander Adekola, who sponsored the motion entitled, “Urgent Need to Curb Unwholesome Practices of Banks in Nigeria,” said staffers who don’t meet the largely unrealistic targets are summarily dismissed.

Contributing to the motion which led to a long debate, Hon. Rita Orji said in some cases, bankers who failed to meet targets were sacked through text messages.

Adekola said: “A critical assessment of the targets being given to these employees to meet, show them to be unrealistic, unreasonable, ordinarily unattainable and irrational.

“But these banks resort to unethical means to ensure that these targets are met by either explicitly or impliedly encouraging their staff, especially the female ones to engage in illicit behaviour.”

House  Majority Leader, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, recalled that he made an attempt to stop the practice with his Corporate Prostitution Bill presented in the Sixth Assembly, saying that the bill got to the stage of a public hearing, but some bankers shot it down.”

Credit: Sun

BVN Registration Continues, Says CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced the continuation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration exercise despite the expiration of the deadline on Saturday, October, 31.

The spokesman of the CBN, Ibrahim Muazu speaking to newsmen yesterday November 1st, said although the exercise still continues, costumers who failed to register before the expiration date will not be able to access their accounts until they do their registration.

He said the registration exercise was generally satisfactory “Deadline was successful because the awareness has been created to millions of customers and the banking hall were empty unlike the June deadline where there were chaos everywhere in the banking halls”

Robbers Storm Banks In FESTAC

Robbers, Tuesday morning stormed FESTAC Town, in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area of Lagos State, in military fatigue and raided three banks on 4th avenue in the area.

It was gathered that the heavily armed robbers who came via the canal in speed boats blew up the security doors of Diamond, Finbank and Access banks and carted away unspecified amount of money.

It was learned that the robbers announced their presence with sporadic shootings which sent everyone in the vicinity scampering to safety. Several persons were reported injured in the process.

It cannot ascertained if customers and staff of the affected banks were hurt during the operation.  However, eyewitnesses said that the men of the underworld shot indiscriminately while they were been chased by the Police and youth in the area as they made good their escape.

Creditvanguardngr

Nigeria’s Interbank Market Frozen As Banks Comply With TSA

Nigerian banks made no bids on the interbank money market on Tuesday as they awaited instructions on how to comply with a directive to transfer government revenues into a Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria, dealers said.

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered that all revenues be paid into the TSA from Tuesday, as part of a drive to fight graft.

“No trading is currently going on because no bank was willing to put out quotes until there is a clearer direction with the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA),” one dealer said.

“The market is right now frozen, as no trading going on,” another trader said.

Creditdailytimes

Casual Workers Responsible For Fraud In Banks – NDIC, CIBN

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has cautioned banks on the use of casual workers, stating that over 75 per cent of fraud cases in the sector had been traced to outsourced bank staff.

The managing director and chief executive of the NDIC, Alhaji Umaru Ibrahim, called for a closer look at the phenomenon of outsourced or contract staff in banks to ensure healthy and sound practices in the banking industry.

According to him, bank examination reports had indicated that the high incidences of fraud and forgeries in the banking system had been linked to outsourced or contract staff.

Umaru also said that in as much as regulators appreciated the necessity for banks to cut costs, it was incumbent on all stakeholders to fashion out capacity building and other strategies to motivate all employees to contribute positively rather than engaging in criminal acts that impact adversely on the entire banking system.

The CIBN president, Otunba (Mrs) Debola Osibogun, during a courtesy visit to the NDIC, regretted that a large percentage of fraud cases in the banking sector are traced to outsourced bank staff who were neither professionals nor members of the CIBN. While noting that the institute had no control over the banks, Osibogun disclosed that a committee of the institute was already working with heads of operations of banks on the challenges posed by the outsourced staff and would soon submit its report to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for consideration.

The CIBN president also said that the institute had been mandated as the agency for competency framework for banking industry by the CBN, adding that the CIBN had visited banks’ academies and had issued accreditation certificates to the academies of the First Bank, Access Bank and Guaranty Trust Bank.

ATM Withdrawal Limits Reduced By Banks

The battle for defence of the Naira value has widened, affecting existing withdrawal limits on Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) and foreign transactions on all existing Naira debit cards (ATM cards).

atm2In the new arrangement, all ATMs that were hitherto enabled for domestic and foreign transactions have been restructured to limit Naira cash withdrawal at ATMs to N60,000 per day while foreign currency is $300 per day. Hitherto, the domestic withdrawal limit was N150,000 per day.

The new arrangement has separated traditional ATM from MasterCard credit card where the former has now been deactivated and can no longer be used for transactions abroad. Hitherto, a single ATM card serves for transactions for both domestic and abroad.

Also, the restructured cards now have spending limits on POS/eCommerce (online shopping) pegged at $300 (about N60,000) per day. Before this, the limit was N2 million per day.

In the new arrangement, a bank customer with multiple debit cards (ATM cards), only the one linked to the primary transactional account will be enabled for use abroad. Hitherto, such customers could transact with any of the cards that is funded.

However, banks are putting in place alternatives in these adjustments to address the concern of customers who are now being directed by their banks to reapply for a new card arrangement to suit their purposes.

For instance, Standard Chartered Bank has asked its customers to request a complementary ATM card for domestic use only so that the original N150,000 daily cash withdrawal limit can be restored and also reactivate POS/online purchase limit of N2 million per day.

The bank also required their customers to apply for a foreign currency denominated ATM linked to domiciliary account which would be enabled with no daily or annual international transaction limits.

Earlier, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc had informed its customers of its decision to reduce the daily international spending limit on their Naira MasterCard to $300 with effect from yesterday.

In a communication to the customers, the bank explained: “In view of the increased difficulty in sourcing foreign currency to settle international transactions on Naira MasterCards, we have reduced the daily international spending limit on your Naira MasterCard to $300.This means that you can only spend up to $300 daily when using your GTBank Naira MasterCard for international payments via POS and online.

“You will, however, continue to have the option of paying for medical bills, school fees, mortgages and credit cards using Form A, as these are eligible transactions for foreign currency. Simply visit any GTBank branch to complete a Form A along with the required documents to make these payments.”

These developments were coming on the heels of Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) statement on Sunday that all legitimate requests for foreign currency for eligible transactions, normally referred to as “invisibles,” such as remittances for school fees, student maintenance allowances, BTA, PTA, medical and other eligible transactions, shall be fully met at the official/interbank exchange rate.

A statement from the CBN added that already all the legitimate demands for such transactions through recognised channels have so far been fully met by CBN.

The statement stated: “The CBN hereby directs all authorised dealers in foreign exchange in Nigeria to henceforth treat as top priority all legitimate demand for foreign exchange for eligible transactions.

“The CBN once again advises individuals that wish to source foreign currency for such eligible transactions to approach their banks with their legitimate demand as the CBN has made adequate provisions of foreign currency for all such legitimate and eligible purposes.

“Furthermore, holders of Naira denominated debit and credit cards shall continue to have access to the use of their cards at ATMs in any part of the world but subject to the annual limit of $50,000. ATM withdraws shall continue to be a maximum of $300 per day.”

– Source – www.vanguardngr.com

We Are Identifying Banks, Countries Where Stolen Funds Were Lodged, Says Buhari

Speaking at an audience with visiting United States Congressmen at the presidential villa, Abuja, Mr. Buhari acknowledged the support and cooperation given his administration by the international community in gathering all required intelligence for tracing and recovering stolen national resources.

“We are getting cooperation from the international community, including information on ships that take crude oil from Nigeria and change direction, or pour their contents into other ships mid-stream,” he said.

“Some monies were paid to individual accounts. We are identifying the financial institutions and countries that are involved.

“I have been assured that when we get all our documents together, the United States and other countries will treat our case with sympathy,’’ the president told the Congressmen led by Darrel Issa.

President Buhari also told the lawmakers that his administration will encourage more regular meetings of the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission.

He said the commission could serve as a more useful platform for the promotion of bilateral trade and economic relations as well as joint cooperation in the war against terrorism.

Mr. Darrel assured President Buhari that the United States will support Nigeria against Boko Haram by providing training, intelligence and military platforms.

“We look forward to helping you in many ways to end the Boko Haram insurgency and the theft of crude oil in the Gulf of Guinea,’’ he said.

Credit: NAN

Ikorodu Heist Was Planned In 30 Minutes, Suspect Says

The police paraded suspects in the Ikorodu bank robbery, yesterday. About N80 million was reportedly carted away a fortnight ago by the robbers in a heist one of the suspects said was planned in just 30 minutes.

According to one of the suspects, 25-year-old Bright who has fathered two kids, the robbery was carried out by an 18-man gang.

Bright, a graduate of English/Christian Religious Study from the College of Education, Ekiadolor, Edo State, said a meeting with members of the gang, chaired by the gang’s leader, whose identity he gave as Million, was held in Abule area of Lagos same day the operation was carried out.

“Million is our leader. I was introduced to the gang by a friend named Akpan. I joined because I had no means of feeding my family. I am a wood logger, but business has been bad.

“Akpan took me to the gang’s meeting same day of the operation, on June 24, at Abule Ishawo area of Ikorodu. Those of us from Lagos included myself, M. O., Kelvin, S. K. Careboy and Million, while the rest were recruited from Warri, Delta State, by Million.

“He also brought eight rifles and two pump action guns from Warri, including the two operational vehicles. He taught us how to aim at our targets during the meeting, which lasted 30 minutes, with each of us instructed on what to do on reaching the venue.

“My role was to stand outside, with one of the pump action guns, shooting sporadically. I was also instructed to shoot at anyone who dared to intrude, while the boys recruited from Warri confronted the police.

“I had over 900 cartridges. At the end of the operation, we escaped in a fibre boat and went to the creeks, where the loot was shared. At the creeks, we analysed the operation and Million said we did well, promising to use us for subsequent operations.

“I was not allowed to go near where the money was counted. Million and other leaders counted the money. But Akpan told me they got N80 million. I was given N2 million.

“I bought a Lexus SUV for N1.5 million and I gave my wife N30,000 to enrol for an exam. I also gave some of my friends out of it and also bought jerry cans for my brother, who is a pipeline vandal.

“Million instructed those from Warri to set the operational vehicles ablaze before leaving the scene. That was after the numbers plates were removed,” Bright said.

Bright said the 18-man gang was also responsible for the Lekki and Ijede bank robberies but said he was not part of the two operations.

Other suspects paraded are Omoboye, 39; Ikuesan, 37, and Abiwa, 20.

Outgoing Lagos Commissioner of Police, Kayode Aderanti, said that the arrest was a demonstration of his earlier assurance to the people of the state that no criminal would go scot-free.

Greece In Shock As Banks Shut Down

Greeks woke up to shuttered banks, closed cash machines and a climate of rumors and conspiracy theories on Monday as a breakdown in talks between Athens and its creditors plunged the country deep into crisis.

After receiving no extra emergency funding for Greek lenders from the European Central Bank, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sombrely announced capital controls in a televised address on Sunday night to prevent banks from collapsing under the weight of mass withdrawals.

Greece has less than 48 hours to pay back 1.6 billion euros ($1.77 billion) of International Monetary Fund loans, and a default would set in train events that could lead to the country’s exit from the euro currency bloc.

Read More: Reuters

CBN To Sanction Banks For Forex Rule Violation

The Central Bank of Nigeria said Deposit Money Banks and Bureaux de Change that sell foreign exchange to importers of rice, toothpick, tomato paste and private jets, among others, into the country will be sanctioned.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, stated this on Wednesday during a special media briefing held in Abuja to explain the rationale behind the new policy banning the sale of forex for the importation of some items.

The bank had on Tuesday issued a circular stopping the sales of foreign exchange to importers of 40 times.

Emefiele explained that the change in policy was in line with the government’s long held believe that Nigeria could not attain its true potential by importing everything.

Read More: Punch

Robbers Raid Banks In Ikorodu

Armed robbers, Wednesday morning, raided banks in Ikorodu, carting away unspecified amount of money.

It has been gathered that the robbers attacked the banks located at Ipakodo Ebute, near Ogolonto in Ikorodu. They were said to have used speed boats in accessing the community, raiding First Bank and another bank in the area. We learnt the Police are in pursuit of the robbers.

Read More: vanguardngr

BVN Deadline: Customers Congest Banks

Many bank customers on Monday besieged their banks to collect their Bank Verification Number (BVN) a week to the deadline of the exercise. The BVN is for biometric registration of all bank customers in the country.

NAN reports that while many customers had done their registration, a good number is yet to comply with the Central Bank’s directive.

A cross section of customers who spoke to NAN said that they could not participate in the exercise early enough because of their crowded schedules.

A First Bank customer, Mrs Dorcas Atim, said that she was just delivered of a baby when the exercise commenced, hence her inability to do the verification earlier than now.

”I was doing everything by myself and as such I had little or no time to spare for other things other than my domestic chores which were time consuming,” she said.

Read Morevanguardngr

Panic Over N400bn Bad Debt Owed Banks

About N400 billion bad debt outstanding in the banking sector is causing panic in the industry and most of the debtors are individuals who have the capacity to pay but have refused to do so.

Following this development, the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and Deposit Money Banks in the country have concluded plans to publish the list of such debtors starting from August 1, 2015.

The decision to publish the list was arrived at yesterday after the bankers rose from the 322nd Bankers’ Committee meeting in Abuja with a resolution that the names of all serial bank debtors be published latest August 1, 2015.

Read Morevanguardngr

 

Ayeyemi Named New CEO Of Ecobank

Pan-African bank Ecobank Transnational Incorporated has named Ade Ayeyemi as its new group chief executive.

Nigerian Ayeyemi, currently head of Citigroup’s sub-Saharan Africa division, will replace Ecobank CEO Albert Essien who is retiring at the end of June. He will lead a bank headquartered in Togo that has operations in 36 African countries

Banks To Resume Operations As Fuel Deadlock Ends

Some banks that have suspended operations because of crippling fuel shortages will resume operations after workers in the fuel sector suspended their strike. It is expected the suspension of the industrial action as announced on Monday would improve the supply o fuel.

Prior to the announcement, some banks had halted operations but checks by CAJ News established the banks would resume operations on Tuesday.

“We are pleased to inform you that from tomorrow, Tuesday, 26th of May 2015, all our branches nationwide will resume normal banking hours of 8am – 5pm for all your banking services, as the Nigerian Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have announced the suspension of the petroleum product strike,” a notice from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) to its customers read.

The bank also apologized to its customers for inconvenience during the early closure period.

Credit: CAJ News

Court Restrains 11 Banks From Honouring Withdrawal Transactions Of Ex-Rep’s Accounts

A Federal High Court in Lagos has restrained 11 commercial banks in Nigeria from honouring any withdrawal transaction on the accounts of a former member of the House of Representatives, Doris Uboh-Ogunkoya.

Uboh-Ogunkoya was a member of the House between 2007 and 2011 under the platform of Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, and also a Senatorial candidate of Labour Party in the 2015 general elections.

Trial judge, Justice Mohammed Yunusa, who made the order, restrained the affected banks from allowing Uboh-Ogunkoya to withdrawal from her accounts with the banks pending the hearing and determination of a motion on notice before the court.

The affected banks are United Bank for Africa, UBA, First Bank, Zenith Bank Enterprise Bank, Skye Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Mainstreet Bank, Union Bank, Diamond Bank and Stanbic IBTC.

The order of the court was sequel to an application by Sterling Bank, through its lawyer, Dada Awosika against Uboh-Ogunkoya and her company, Dagasteel International Limited.

 Aside from the order freezing the lawmaker’s accounts in the 11 commercial banks, the court also restrained the Registrar of Titles of Lagos and Delta states, and Director of Lands, Abuja Geographical Information System,  from making any advancing payment and /or releasing any funds either in Naira or US dollar, which sum represents proceeds from Shell Petroleum Development Company,SPDC and Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, contract belonging to the lawmaker’s company, or her agent, privies, assigns or anyone acting through the lawmaker or her company.

Read Morevanguardngr

Nigerian Man Accused Of Hacking Bank Computer To Steal $340 million

A Nigerian man has been arraigned in an Abuja high court, charged with hacking into a bank server and siphoning out more than N68 billion (over $340 million, £225 million).

The man, Stephen Omaidu, a graduate of Kogi State Polytechnic in Lokoja, entered a not guilty plea and has been remanded in custody pending his trial.

The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accuses Omaidu of participating in the hack along with four others, who all remain at large. Two of them are named as just “Ben” and “Oliver”.

Few details have been released on exactly how the “hack” took place, and indeed on the bank involved, other than that it is a “second-generation bank” – that is, one set up since independence from colonial rule in 1960. Nigeria’s largest banks are mostly older establishments.

The big thing here is, of course, the amount of money involved.

If this had been a physical heist it would have been well up among the largest ever – the amount one can steal in cash and other transferables tends to be limited by how much crooks can get out through a door (or tunnel) in a reasonable amount of time. Only art or jewel thefts get this big.

In computer crime, the traditional image is of small amounts being snuck out over long periods – think Superman 3 or Office Space.

Even in large-scale operations like identity theft and carding, each individual fraud tends to be fairly small and the totals netted by long-running operations barely touch this sort of scale.

But, with the hacking and cybercrime explosion of the last few years, digital heists have been getting larger and larger.

Banks are prime targets for cybercrooks, with their computer systems holding vast amounts of money which can be transferred from account to account without the need of a holdall, let alone a large truck.

Although banks’ security gets ever more elaborate, especially their digital defences, it seems there’s always a way around them, and when someone finds such a way the losses can be seriously epic.

For the most part, such “hacks” tend to involve some sort of insider, as in anotherrecent case in Nigeria, or at least placing some rogue hardware into bank networks as in the UK Barclays and Santander scams of 2012-13.

Theft of digital currencies such as bitcoin, which can get fairly massive, as in theMt. Gox incident, also tend to involve insiders.

It’s not clear whether Mr. Omaidu or any of his alleged conspirators were bank employees, but the odds are pretty good that there was an inside connection of some sort.

Either way, it seems like some banks still have some work to do to keep their computers and networks, and the immaterial funds stored in them, secure.

As Promised, FirstBank Rewards Over 1500 Customers With Cars and Other Gifts | Pictures

It was a remarkable close to the FirstBank Savings Bonanza Draws on March 12, 2015 at the All Seasons Plaza, Agindigbi Ikeja. The ultimate giveaway of prizes spanning over 7 months saw more than 1,500 customers rewarded through the bonanza initiative. The event was mixed with laughter, fun challenges, popping of champagne for the winner, handing out of amazing prizes, and some “shoki and sekem” dance moves.

The exciting event was attended by the Group Head of Lagos Mainland, First Bank of Nigeria, Olufunke Smith; Group Head Products and Marketing Support, Biodun Famuyiwa; Manager of KPMG, Mr. Martins Olajide, pressmen, past beneficiaries from the quarterly and monthly draws as well as well-wishers.

According to the Group Head of Lagos Mainland FirstBank of Nigeria, Mrs. Olufunke Smith, “the FirstBank Savings Bonanza was a way of thanking the customers for their 120 Years of patronage and loyalty”. Past winners of the last draws, amongst who was a cash prize winner of N50, 000, Jonathan Okeleke and one of the grand car prize winners, Banji Ajuwon were also recognized.

Using this as an avenue to jumpstart the quarterly draws for the grand finale, past car prize winner; Banji Ajuwon was invited to extend his blessing by picking the first draw for the winners of the brand new Toyota Corolla cars, with 6 customers emerging as car winners. Other draws were made to select the winners for the 50,000 cash prize, home theatres, LCD televisions and Samsung Galaxy Phones.

To ensure winners from the draws knew the status of the prizes, winners were reached via phone calls. When one of the winners of the Toyota Corolla cars, Mrs Ebisan Onyema was called, she did not believe it was for real as she thought it was a scam. A vehicle was sent to her place of residence to convey her to the event venue and was welcomed with cheers from the crowd upon her arrival. She was very emotional and totally lost for words and when asked when she wanted her car, she said “Monday, 16 March 2015”.

As promised, one of the six cars won at the draws was presented on Monday 16 of March 2015 at the First Bank Nigeria Head Office at Marina, Lagos. The GMD, Bisi Onasanya who was on hand to deliver the car to the winner, Mrs Ebisan Onyema stated that “FirstBank enjoys rewarding its customers and will always keep to words and promises made”.

For the winner, Mrs Onyema who has been a FirstBank customer for 25 years, she couldn’t believe it when she was told she had won a car and her bankers didn’t believe it either. According to her, “People can now see and understand why I am running to FirstBank, FirstBank is truly the best and everybody should have an account with them” she added joyfully.

Amongst those who attended the car presentation event were senior executives of FirstBank and the cast of soon to be launched TV series, “Before 30” which included actress Damilola Adegbite-Attoh and Anee Icha. Also on ground were Noble Igwe and other notable media personalities.

 bonanza day Cross Section of Former Winners and Guests Juwon Draw Process (2) Mrs Ebisan Onyema Onyema 2 Onyema 3 Onyema and the GMD FirstBank

We Would Sue Banks Over Loans Granted To Fayemi’s Administration – Fayose

Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State has said the state was in the process of filing a suit against some banks he said granted loans to the administration of ex-Governor Kayode Fayode without due process.

Fayose, who gave the hint while addressing monarchs in the state during a meeting on Thursday, said “We don’t know where the funds ended or entered”.

At the meeting, it was learnt that the monarchs agreed to pray and work for the revival of the finances of the state while also urging government to increase the drive for internally generated revenue.

Gov. Fayose lamented that dialogue with the affected banks had failed, adding that they had tagged Ekiti as insolvent and wouldn’t grant the state loans.

He said, “We are currently entering legal action against some banks because of some of the loans they gave the state, we don’t know where they entered. They granted some loans without due process. The banks have been approached but they are not willing to cooperate.

“So, what we are doing now is to approach the courts to seek a legal redress”.