By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Financial institutions operating in Nigeria have been warned to be very careful of transactions from the Benin Republic and should put measures in place to scrutinise them.
This warning came from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) via a circular dated April 11, 2022, stressing that the West African neighbour is gradually becoming a conduit for laundering illicit funds from drug trafficking.
In the notice signed by the Director of Banking Supervision Department of the CBN, Ms Asuquo Evelyn, the apex bank said Nigerian lenders must not be used for such high-risk transactions.
The central bank, therefore, advised banks to ensure they fully implement the know-your-customer (KYC) and customer due diligence (CDD) policies on existing accounts and transactions linked to the Republic of Benin.
In the circular, the apex bank noted that it gathered from competent sources and intelligence reports that the Francophone nation was turning into a hub for the illicit drug trade in West Africa.
“We write to bring to your attention an intelligence report availed to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which indicated that the Benin Republic is increasingly becoming a drug trafficking transit and consumption hub in West Africa.
“In order to ensure that Nigerian banks are not used as conduits for laundering such illicit funds, it has become imperative to intensify the know-your-customer (KYC) and customer due diligence (CDD) measures in your bank as required by regulation.
“Consequently, you are required to implement additional measures on customers and business relationships linked to the Benin Republic. You are also required to re-classify related customers and transactions as high risk and conduct enhanced due diligence (ED) procedures accordingly,” the bank stated.
Ecobank Clinches ‘Excellence in Fintech-Banking Relationships’ Award
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Another feather has been added to the well-decorated cap of Ecobank Group as it recently clinched the Excellence in Fintech-Banking Relationships award at the Africa Fintech Summit.
The lender received this accolade in Washington DC, United States of America (USA) in recognition of its activities to support and facilitate fintech growth on the African continent.
The Group Executive, Operations & Technology, Ecobank, Mr Tomisin Fashina, who received the award on behalf of the bank, attributed the recognition to the pan-African bank’s unparalleled influence in Africa and its unwavering support and numerous initiatives aimed at fostering relationships with fintechs to jointly win in the marketing place, stressing that the bank has put structures and initiatives in place to collaborate and cooperate with fintechs to facilitate the bank’s vision of financial integration of Africa.
“As a bank, one of our strategic objectives is to bank 100 million Africans, across Africa. We won’t go out there with account opening documents to do this. We believe we can achieve that by collaborating and cooperating across the board, and the fintechs come into that space.
“We came out with Ecobank as a service, this is at the heart of why we published our sandbox to encourage fintechs, big techs and any player that wants to do business in Africa to ride on our platforms and help facilitate our vision of a financially integrated Africa. We see ourselves as a key player in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and we believe we are the ultimate bank to facilitate trade across Africa,” he said.
The Africa Fintech Summit is a global knowledge-sharing platform that connects innovators, regulators and entrepreneurs, facilitating conversations and partnerships that help them explore financial technology solutions to improve African individuals, economies and societies.
It is held twice a year in Washington DC and a selected African country and sees stakeholders from around the world assemble to chart a progressive course for fintech in Africa by mobilizing investments, hashing out enabling policies, and sharing growth strategies.
The programme, which was the seventh edition, also recognized TeamApt for Excellence in Digital Banking, PiggyVest- Excellence in Savings and InvestTech, Flutterwave-Excellence in Fintech Infrastructure, while Excellence in Blockchain Technology went to Appzone Group. Others are Excellence in Fintech investment – Future Africa, Excellence in Cryptocurrency – Paxful, Excellence in Ecosystem Research – Briter Bridges, Excellence in Cross-border Solutions – PAPSS, Excellence in Payments – Paystack, Excellence in InsurTech – Turaco, Excellence in Fintech and Lending – Payhippo, Excellence in Embedded Fintech – Cellulant and Excellence in TradeTech – AFEX.
Ecobank has many initiatives to support the growth of fintechs on the continent. The Ecobank Fintech Challenge launched in 2017 identifies and partners with fintechs that are ready to scale, providing them with mentoring, networking, support, and opportunities to access Ecobank’s 33 African markets, as well as opportunities to integrate with existing Ecobank digital offerings. This has recorded significant results and success stories since its inception.
Court Orders CBN, NDIC to Pay 1,116 Bank Workers N5.7bn
By Adedapo Adesanya
The National Industrial Court has ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) to pay over N5.7 billion as terminal benefits to over 1,116 bank workers affected by the re-capitalisation exercise of 2006.
The money is to be paid within three months from the date of judgment as failure to adhere to this will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.
Justice Paul Bassi, at the court sitting in Lagos on Monday, made the order while delivering judgment in the case filed by the 1,116 claimants who had approached the court since 2018.
The court also ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay another N10 million as general damages to the claimants.
The ruling settles the battle that the parties have fought since the consolidation exercise of 2006 which saw banks recapitalised from N2 billion to N25 billion.
Some banks did not meet the recapitalisation requirements and this led to their banking licenses being revoked by the central bank which appointed the NDIC as the liquidator.
The bank workers then sued the two organisations demanding the payment of their terminal benefits.
The two defendants raised several objections, insisting among other things they were not the employers of the workers and the suit disclosed no cause of action against them.
In his judgment, Justice Bassi dismissed the preliminary objections of the defendants and held while they may have acted for the general good by raising the capital base of banks in the country, it should not be done at the expense of the former employees.
By revoking the banking licenses of the non-consolidated banks, the defendants interfered with the employment contracts of the bank workers, a contract which would ordinarily have run its natural course with the claimants paying their benefits at the end.
The court then ordered the CBN and the NDIC to pay the workers within three months from the date of judgment failing which it will attract 10 per cent interest until liquidated.
Sterling Bank Offers Optometrists Loans at Competitive Interest Rates
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed to automate operations, enhance capacity and provide loans at competitive interest rates for optometrists has been signed by Sterling Bank Plc and the Nigerian Optometrist Association (NOA).
Under the deal, members of the association will be able to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention for the health sector at 5 per cent as well as obtain template credit from the bank within 48 hours at a competitive interest rate of 20 per cent, which is below the prevailing rate in the banking industry.
Business Post gathered that Sterling Bank has earmarked N10 billion for the entire health care sector in the country and would accommodate any level of funding optometrists may require.
The Group Head of Health Finance at Sterling Bank, Mrs Ibironke Akinmade, while speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos, explained that the initiative is part of the lender’s vision to be the leading bank for businesses in the health sector.
The Head of Health Finance said the rationale behind the partnership with NOA is to further position Sterling Bank as the bank of choice for businesses in the health sector, adding that this means more business collaboration and partnership with stakeholders in the health space.
“We have adopted a community approach in engagement with stakeholders in this sector. This will not only give us leverage to develop tailor-made propositions for the community, but it also creates an inroad for engagement of their members through a cluster approach,” she said.
Mrs Akinmade said the bank recently engaged the NOA in a bid to scale on its offerings to the health sector, which includes access to finance (template credit), and access to digitalisation (payment platforms and Electronic Medical Records) as well as advisory services, among others.
Also speaking, Dr Obinna Awiaka, President of NOA, said the association wants a bank that would help its members to grow and discovered that Sterling is the only bank that has a passion for the healthcare sector.
He said the relationship between members of his association and the bank will build the economy because once the healthcare industry is built the economy will also be built.
Dr Awiaka said the NOA is satisfied with the relationship with Sterling Bank because in no distant time the bank, in conjunction with healthcare professionals, will help to develop the sector, which will translate to a better future for the country.
He said the development will make Nigerian professionals that are leaving the country in droves return to the country to practice and this will reduce medical tourism among the country’s leaders, thanking Sterling Bank for coming on board and taking the bull by the horn to support the healthcare industry.
The NOA was established in 1968 and is the prime umbrella association representing over 5,000 doctors of optometry across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, as well as all other optometric interest groups in Nigeria.
Since 2018, Sterling Bank has concentrated investment in five sectors of the economy under its HEART strategy in a bid to make an impact on the country’s economic development. The five sectors in HEART’s strategy include health, education, agriculture, renewable energy and transportation.
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