Bank CEOs, Others Jittery Over EFCC Asset Declaration Directive
By Dipo Olowookere
Some executives of financial institutions, including the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria, are jittery over a new directive of the nation’s chief anti-money laundering agency.
On March 16, 2021, the newly appointed chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Abdulrashed Bawa, said employees of financial institutions in the country, including their CEOs, have till June 1, 2021, to declare their assets.
Mr Bawa said this when he addressed newsmen after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
The EFCC boss said the failure of any banker in the country to declare his/her assets by the deadline will result in imprisonment for a term of 10 years as stipulated by the law.
The directive has legal backing
He told journalists that the Bank Employees, ETC. (Declaration of Assets) Act 1986 mandates every employee of a bank to make full disclosure of assets upon employment, and annually in subsequent years.
According to him, section 7 (1) of the law stipulates that, “It shall be an offence for an employee of a bank to own assets in excess of his legitimate known and provable income.”
He added that section 7(2) emphasised that, “Any employee guilty of an offence under subsection (1) of this section shall on conviction be liable to imprisonment for 10 years and shall, in addition, forfeit the excess assets or its equivalent in money to the federal government.”
Reason for the order
Mr Bawa said his agency is triggering these provisions to sanitize the nation’s financial system and block some of the loopholes currently being exploited by unscrupulous players in the sector to undermine Nigerian economy through money laundering and illicit financial flows.
He said the EFCC was determined to tackle money laundering in the country and bring sanity into the financial system.
Bank executives already jittery
But since this information was revealed yesterday, some bank executives have been nervous and sources close to some of them informed Business Post that efforts are being made to lobby powerbrokers in the country to push the deadline forward.
“I can tell you that this statement by the EFCC chairman is not going down well with a lot of bank executives.
“I can also tell you for a fact that some of them are making efforts to clean up their tracks and possibly talk to those in power to extend the June 1 deadline.
“To them, the timeframe is too short and they believe it should be moved forward except the EFCC chair wants to use this as a vendetta,” one of the sources told this newspaper.
Another said, “I am not surprised this is coming from the EFCC chairman. He is vast in financial crimes and forensic. He has handled cases of high-profile Nigerians and he knows how senior bankers help politicians to launder money.
“A few of us saw this coming and we expect more from him because he knows the game very well. He has already thrown many top executives of banks into confusion with this directive. I think it is good for the financial sector.”
Buhari supports directive
But it is not certain how these CEOs and executives would go about it as the President fully supports the EFCC chairman on this directive.
Mr Bawa, according to information gathered, was in Abuja yesterday to discuss this issue with him and by informing State House Correspondents of the development shows that he has the full banking of Mr Buhari.
President Buhari has not hidden his desire to clean up the country of corruption. In fact, it is one of the key targets of his administration and he has been fighting corruption vigorously since he assumed office in 2019.
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Afreximbank, Nigeria’s Letshego Win at African Banker Awards 2023
By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Banker Awards 2023 Gala Ceremony, the most prestigious event in the African banking calendar, took place last night at the Rixos Hotel in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, on the sidelines of the African Development Bank Annual Meetings and saw African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) winning two awards.
The ceremony was attended by over 300 of the continent’s leading bankers, regulators, and policymakers.
Now in its 17th edition, the African Banker Awards celebrate the achievements of individuals and institutions that have contributed significantly to the growth and development of Africa’s banking sector over the past year.
The top highlight of the ceremony was Ms Esther Kariuki becoming the second woman to win the African Banker of the Year Award. The Head of Agriculture Business at the Co-op Bank of Kenya has been a central figure in advancing agriculture as a key asset class for her institution.
She was also responsible for considerably increasing lending to the agriculture sector and oversaw the roll-out of the platform Co-op Bank Soko, a digital marketplace that connects the agriculture value chain and ensures, among other things, that small-holder farmers receive a higher price for their produce.
Afreximbank won two prestigious awards in Sharm El Sheikh in recognition of its growing leadership within Africa’s financial services sector. The Cairo-based institution was celebrated as both African Bank of the Year and Development Financial Institution of the Year, making it the sole institution to win more than one award during this year’s ceremony.
Mauritius’ Mr Harvesh Seegolam wins Central Bank Governor of the Year. The youngest ever serving governor of Mauritius Central Bank was appointed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He leveraged Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC) to provide critical financial support to key sectors of the economy by investing in private sector operators. Its latest returns report demonstrated that the investments made through the MIC have increased in value, despite the challenging economic conditions faced.
South African banks swept many of the Deal of the Year categories. South Africa’s Mr Enoch Godongwana won the Minister of Finance of the Year Award. He was recognised for his steadfast management of the economy as finance minister as well as the work he has done to encourage investment to accelerate the energy transition.
Nigeria was also in the spotlight as Letshego Nigeria took the inaugural AFAWA Bank of the Year Award, a category spotlighting financial institutions empowering female entrepreneurs across the continent.
The Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) is a pan-African initiative to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa.
The African Banker Icon was won by veteran dealmaker, Mr Miguel Azevedo, head of investment banking for sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa at Citi. The lifetime achievement award went to another veteran banker, Mr Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, former Managing Director and current Non-executive Chairman of CIB Bank, Egypt’s largest private sector bank.
Speaking at the event, Mr said Omar Ben Yedder, Committee Chairman and Group Publisher at IC Publications, publishers of African Banker, said this year’s award ceremony is a testament not only to the vibrancy and dynamism of Africa’s banking industry but also its increasing diversity.
“The financial services industry continues to demonstrate excellence, innovation and impact in their respective markets and regions.
“FinTech, Climate Finance, and Cross-Border payments are all being shaped by the leaders we are recognising today.”
The ceremony is organised by African Banker magazine, with the African Development Bank as its High Patron. This year’s AfDB Meetings focused on mobilising private sector finance towards green growth. The 2023 edition was sponsored by the African Guarantee Fund, the Trade and Development Bank (TDB) and Tanzania’s CRDB Bank.
Full list of winners:
Banker of the Year
Ms Esther Kariuki, Co-operative Bank of Kenya
Bank of the Year
African Banker Icon
Mr Miguel Azevedo, Citi
Mr Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, Commercial International Bank
Central Bank Governor of the Year
Mr Harvesh Seegolam, Bank of Mauritius
Minister of Finance of the Year
Mr Enoch Godongwana, South Africa
Sustainable Bank of the Year
Nedbank, South Africa
DFI of the Year
Fintech of the Year
SME Bank of the Year
La Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations – CDC
Deal of the Year – Debt
Harmony Gold Company syndicated multi-tranche, multi-currency, loan facility of $400m and R4bn – Absa & Nedbank
Deal of the Year – Equity
$298m Infinity Energy equity investment and Lekela Power acquisition – Africa Finance Corporation
Deal of the Year – Agriculture
$78m funding facility for the Southern Oil Structured Commodity Finance Transaction – Absa
Deal of the Year – Infrastructure
$900m debt funding facility for Scatec Solar PV plus Battery Storage Project – Standard Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – North
Bank of Africa
Regional Bank of the Year – Southern
Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco)
Regional Bank of the Year – East
Regional Bank of the Year – Central
Trust Merchant Bank
Regional Bank of the Year – West
AFAWA Bank of the Year Award
FBNQuest Merchant Bank Promises to Accelerate Revenue Growth
By Adedapo Adesanya
FBNQuest Merchant Bank Limited, the investment banking and asset management subsidiary of FBN Holdings Plc, witnessed resilience and growth amid a challenging economic environment in 2022.
The Chairman of the firm, Mr Bello Maccido, while addressing shareholders at the 8th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the organisation in Lagos recently, expressed his satisfaction with the bank’s performance in the face of headwinds which created a challenging operating environment.
“2022 was a year filled with unprecedented challenges, but management’s resilience and the board’s keen oversight during the year resulted in the improved performance recorded.
“Our solid financial performance, growth across various business lines, and recognition through esteemed awards are a testament to our unwavering commitment to delivering value to our stakeholders,” he said while presenting the company’s Audited Financial Statements for the financial year ended December 31, 2022, to shareholders.
The bank recorded an impressive 312.5 per cent year-on-year increase in Profit Before Tax (PBT), with the growth driven largely by a 137.7 per cent increase in net interest income and a 34.4 per cent increase in gross earnings.
The bank’s commitment to cost optimization initiatives also helped to control operating expenses, which remained relatively flat year on year.
Speaking on this, Mr Kayode Akinkugbe, Managing Director of FBNQuest Merchant Bank, highlighted the bank’s strength and resilience during the challenging year.
He said, “The year 2022 was marked by significant economic turbulence, but we emerged stronger and more resilient. We were steadfast in our mission to Transform for Maximum Productivity by focusing on the strategic pillars of optimisation, innovation and partnerships, and this yielded positive results.
“We are proud of our achievements and remain focused on delivering exceptional value to our clients, employees, and shareholders.”
FBNQuest Merchant Bank received various awards and accolades in 2022, recognizing its excellence and contribution to the financial industry. These included the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Award for Infrastructure and Project Finance House of the Year, the EMEA Finance Africa Banking Awards for Best Asset Manager, and an ‘’A” rating from Agusto& Co., affirming the Bank’s stable outlook as a financial institution.
Looking ahead to 2023, Mr Akinkugbe acknowledged the macroeconomic and social challenges that Nigeria will face. Nevertheless, he expressed optimism about the improved outlook and opportunities for the bank’s various lines of business.
He stated, “We are dedicated to accelerating revenue growth purposely and responsibly. We will deepen our understanding of our evolving client base, offer novel products and services, pursue collaboration opportunities, and continue our digital transformation efforts.
“By remaining an employer of choice within our industry and nurturing high-quality staff, we will strengthen our position as a provider of investment solutions for all, a corporate and investment bank for entrepreneurs, and a trusted broker/partner for institutional investors.”
Access Bank Promotes Entrepreneurship Among NYSC Members
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
To promote entrepreneurship among members of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Access Bank Plc has doled out N15.5 million to the participants of Batch A, Stream Two of the programme.
The beneficiaries, 55 in number, were chosen because they presented winning entrepreneurial ideas in Abuja, Delta, Kwara, Kaduna, and Rivers States.
“As an institution, we understand the role that young people play in the community and the nation, and we are committed to supporting their aspirations.
“We believe that the youths represent the future and hope of our nation. And we will do all we can to support their innovative ideas.
“Access Bank has been in a strategic partnership with NYSC since 2016. The relationship further evolved into the launch of Accessprenuer: The NYSC edition in February 2021.
“We have completed 13 editions of the Accessprenuer competition, impacting 490 corps members with N195 million seed capital.
“We have a Facebook community where the winners of these editions will interact freely amongst themselves and inspire young entrepreneurs with similar aspirations. The Facebook community has about 5,800 members,” the Group Head of Consumer Banking at Access Bank, Ms Njideka Esomeju, stated.
The star prize winner in Rivers State, Obot, who wants to go into the palm oil business, thanked Access Bank for motivating him with seed capital to realize his dream and have a brighter future.
Another winner from Abuja, Nifemi Ademola, who pitched on tomatoes harvesting and reproduction and won N700,000, said, “I really want to thank Access Bank for this initiative. The seed capital money I won today will really assist in expanding my business and also help me to acquire more tools that I need for efficient production in the future.”
One of the N400,000 winners in Kwara, Ugah Ebuka, said, “A very big thank you to Access Bank, and I pray that utilizing this cash for what it is actually meant for, my business will not just grow but be heard across the globe.”
The bank also rewarded other corps members across the country in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th -10th positions with N400,000, N250,000, N150,000, and N100,000, respectively.
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