By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Managing directors of Heritage Bank Plc and Aso Savings and Loans Plc have been directed to appear in Abuja to answer what they know about the huge amount of money allegedly hidden in their banks instead of being deposited in the federal government’s Treasury Single Account (TSA).
On Thursday, chairman of the House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the management, implementation and level of compliance with TSA, Mr Abubakar Danburam, said the two bank chiefs must explain how the N21 billion and $104.46 million undeclared revenue in their possession came about instead of being in the TSA.
According to the lawmaker, letter of invitation would soon be dispatched to Mr Ifie Sekibo of Herotage and Mr Hassan Usman of Aso Savings and Loans to appear before the committee over the discovery.
However, he warned that failure of the affected bank chiefs to appear before the committee for questioning would result to an arrest warrant issued on them.
“Today, we are supposed to meet with Heritage Bank and Aso Savings with regard to the Treasury Single Account (TSA).
“As you can see, none of their management or staff is here. Our independent investigations have revealed that contrary to what Heritage Bank submitted to us, they also have two undisclosed accounts in the TSA.
“The one with Nigerian Export and Import (NEXIM) Bank has $104 million, while a second one with Nigerian Maritime Administration Safety Agency (NIMASA) has $46,000. Yet, there is another N21 billion, which also forms part of our enquiry. We want to know why they did not reveal those accounts to this committee.
“We hereby give the Managing Directors of Heritage Bank and Aso Savings the opportunity to appear before this committee at a date to be announced later. If they fail, we will then issue a warrant of arrest against them,” the lawmaker said.
FG Orders PSOs, Telcos to Stop Support for Illegal Money Lenders
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government through the Federal Competition and Consumers Protection Commission (FCCPC) has directed payment systems operators (PSOs) and telecommunication companies, including Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in Nigeria to stop providing support that enables the operations of illegal money lenders in Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, FCCPC, Mr Babatunde Irukera, in Lagos, when the commission conducted enforcement actions against a loan shark known as Soko Lending Limited.
He added that FCCPC has secured orders to disable or diminish violators’ ability to circumvent regulatory efforts to protect citizens.
He also announced that a Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending has been developed and adopted by the inter-agency Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force as an interim step to establishing a clear regulatory framework for the sector.
“Soko Lending appears to be the most consequential digital money lender with multiple apps and brand names covering a significant share of the digital/online lending market, and one of the most prolific actors in violating consumer privacy, fair lending terms, and ethical loan repayment/recovery practices,” Mr Irukera said.
He recalled that the agency had previously carried out a similar enforcement action which reduced exploitative practices in the industry, noting, however, that some of the lenders have devised methods to circumvent account freezing and app suspension orders.
Mr Irukera further stated that “The commission has also entered further orders that will disable or diminish violators’ ability to devise circumvention efforts or alternative mechanisms to circumvent the objective of the investigation and protection of citizens.
“Particularly, the commission has ordered all operating payment systems including Flutterwave, Opay, Paystack, and Monify to immediately cease and desist providing payment or transaction services to lenders under investigation or not otherwise operating with applicable regulatory approvals.
“FCCPC has also ordered telecommunication/ technology companies (including Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)) to cease and desist providing server/hosting, or other key services such as connectivity to disclosed or known lenders who are targets/subjects of investigation or otherwise operating without regulatory approval.
“The inter-agency Joint Regulatory and Enforcement Task Force has developed and mutually adopted a Limited Interim Regulatory/Registration Framework and Guidelines for Digital Lending, 2022 as the first and interim step to establishing a clear regulatory framework,” he said.
Union Bank Encourages Customers to Save to Win in Promo
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Head of Retail Deposits at Union Bank, Mr John Obichie, has urged customers of the bank to make deposits in order to win cash and other prizes in the ongoing season 2 of the Save & Win Palli promo.
Speaking at the first live draw of this season, which took place at Union Bank’s Head office in Lagos, the banker said the campaign was designed to encourage customers to save for rainy days and reward them for their loyalty.
“Union Bank is pleased to reward our customers through initiatives like this that encourage them to save. This promo was introduced to support our customers during these trying times and to reward them for being consistent with their saving habits,” he said.
At the event, which produced the first set of winners in the second edition of the promo, no fewer than 50 customers won cash prizes of N105,000 each. The winners were selected randomly through a transparent, and electronically generated draw supervised by relevant regulatory bodies.
Save & Win Palli Promo is a nationwide campaign aimed at rewarding customers with cash prices and other exciting gifts worth over N55 million. The goal is to encourage and promote a healthy savings culture. The promo is open to new and existing customers who save a minimum amount of N10,000 monthly.
Savers who qualify to participate in the monthly draws stand a chance to win N105,000 each, while 5 winners will go home with N500,000 each in two of the quarterly draws. One lucky customer will snag the star price of N5 million during the grand finale set to hold in December alongside other consolation prices.
The savings promo, which kicked off in July, will run until the end of the year and will see more winners emerge during the monthly, quarterly and end-of-year draws so there’s still a chance to participate and win!
An existing Union Bank customer can continue to top up their savings in multiples of N10,000 monthly to increase their chances of winning, while prospective customers can download the UnionMobile app on their mobile phones to open an account or they can simply walk into any Union Bank branch.
To reactivate existing accounts, returning customers can call the 24-hour Contact Centre on 07007007000 or also visit any of Union Bank’s branches across the country.
Polaris Bank in Safe Hands, No Need to Panic—Management
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The management of Polaris Bank Limited has urged its customers and members of the public not to panic over reports that the financial institution has been sold to a new investor, Mr Auwal Gombe, in the sum of N40 billion.
It was recently reported that efforts are being made to hand over the lender to the businessman, who is said to be an ally of former military president, Mr Ibrahim Babangida, after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) nationalised the defunct Skye Bank Plc into Polaris Bank in 2018.
In a statement issued on Friday in Lagos, the bank described the report of the purported sale as not only “speculative” but done to deliberately “create panic” among its customers and the banking community.
The company said the CBN established it and injected funds for its operations, it has bounced back to profitability, with a solid balance sheet, saying there is no cause for alarm as the bank was in safe hands.
“Stakeholders may recall the regulatory intervention in the erstwhile Skye Bank by the CBN and the subsequent injection of capital via the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) through a bridge bank process, which birthed Polaris Bank in 2018.
“The bank has since stabilised its operations following the intervention; improving its balance sheet, customer base and profitability,” a part of the notice today said.
Continuing, Polaris Bank noted that, “Whilst the intention has always been to return the bank to private ownership, such a sale would occur following regulatory approvals with formal notification to all relevant stakeholders,” expressing its commitment to “ensuring timely communication to the public in such an event.”
“The board and management hereby reassure its customers, staff and the general public that Polaris Bank remains a stable, strong and credible financial institution, positioned to deliver sustainable value to all its stakeholders,” the statement concluded.
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