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Naira Redesign: EFCC Begs BDCs, Bankers for Info on Illicit Deposits

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Illicit Deposits

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) and the Association of Chief Compliance Officers of Banks in Nigeria (ACCOBIN) have been urged to provide prompt information on illicit deposits as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tries to control the volume of cash in the financial system.

Last Wednesday, the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said the bank would redesign the higher banknotes; N200, N500, and N1,000 to curb the red-hot inflation and counterfeiting.

He said from December 15, 2022, the new notes would be introduced and by January 31, 2023, the old note would no longer be accepted as legal tender in the country.

Since the announcement, Naira notes stashed in different places are beginning to find their way into the financial system and have weakened the value of the Naira at the parallel market. The Naira was exchanged with the Dollar on Wednesday at N850/$1.

To curtail this, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) raided some BDC operators in Abuja on Tuesday. The agency now wants to work with the forex traders to bring calm into the market.

The Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, held a meeting with the leaders of ACCOBIN and ABCON in Lagos and he used the occasion to explain to them that the agency intends to tackle FX malpractices, money laundering and other fraudulent activities in the nation’s financial sector.

He asked the two groups, which he described as critical stakeholders in the financial services sector, to promptly give information about fraudulent activities, especially illicit deposits and the movement of money through deposit money banks.

“In view of the recent move by the CBN to redesign and re-issue higher denominations of the Nigerian currency, the Naira, there is a need for us to be proactive and be circumspect of the actions of the criminals who will use the financial institutions to launder illicit funds and commit other nefarious activities.

“It is important for you to understand what this policy is all about, considering the fact that a lot of activities will happen, particularly as the 2023 general elections approach.

“We want to work with you to get more information on how to deal with these issues,” he said.

Mr Bawa, who stressed that the EFCC believes that the financial institutions have an important role to play in ridding Nigeria of financial and economic crimes, also charged the banks’ compliance officers and BDC operators to be wary of activities of criminals who might want use the financial institutions to hoard monies for the purpose of vote buying.

He emphasised the need for financial institutions to take Know Your Customer (KYC) seriously and improve intelligence sharing with the commission.

“The EFCC cannot do the job alone. We need to work with you as critical stakeholders, particularly in ensuring a seamless exchange of relevant information to forestall the commission of economic and financial crimes.

“We need better cooperation, synergy, collaboration, intelligence sharing, and, if need be, joint operations with you.

“If there is better management, in terms of communication about the people bringing in monies or the modus operandi being used to disguise this origin of the monies, it will go a long way in tackling the issue of money laundering and financial crimes.

“You are very critical in the fight against economic and financial crimes. This is because, at the end of it, money leaves the bank and money goes in, either for deposit or withdrawal,” the EFCC chief said.

Mr Bawa said “the issue of KYC must go beyond citing utility bills and receipts of customers. This needs to be taken further to forestall cybercrime.”

He also called on the banks to continually develop vetting mechanisms with a view to addressing insider abuse by staff.

In his remarks, Mr Boye Ogunlade, Chairman of ACCOBIN, expressed his satisfaction over the engagement, adding that “this is a good initiative and we hope that it should be held regularly.”

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

Economy

South Korea Pledges Mpox Vaccine Supplies

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Monkeypox mpox

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

Sadly, African health authorities for several months have pursued vaccines for curing mpox and its further spread mostly in vain as worldwide outbreaks were reported during this year. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel as some considerable assistance might come from the Republic of South Korea.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some few thousand doses being the first consignment of mpox vaccines as a donation, would arrive shortly and be used for health workers and people living with the disease in the hardest-hit areas in Africa.

The continent this year has recorded 202 deaths from mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, with a fatality rate of 19.3% across 13 countries. African health authorities for months have made feverish efforts in search for curbing the disease’s spread.

According to the Acting CDC director, Ahmed Ogwell, more than 50 new mpox cases in Congo were recorded this month and said Ghana and Nigeria are the other most affected countries. A surge in mpox infections was particularly reported last May outside West and Central Africa.

“Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” CDC Acting Head, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing pointing to another instance of 1.3 billion people on the continent without access to a vaccine, as in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The solutions need to be global in nature. If we’re not safe, the rest of the world is not safe,” he warned.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has, however, warned against discrimination. “A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health,” Lawrence Gostin, Director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.

Health officials have emphasized that mpox can infect anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedsheets. Researchers are still exploring to establish how it spreads but believe it’s mainly through close, skin-to-skin contact and through contact with bedding and clothing that touched an infected person’s rash or body fluids.

It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.

Reports, however, said that the mpox had been established in parts of Central and West Africa for decades; it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

In Africa, mpox mainly spreads to people by infected wild animals like rodents in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders. In Europe, North America and elsewhere, the mpox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of infections occur among men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can contract the virus.

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Economy

Access Holdings Merges Sigma, FGPL for Formidable PFA Business

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Sigma Pensions

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

To create a formidable pension funds administration (PFA) business in Nigeria, Access Holdings Plc has merged its subsidiary, First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL), with Sigma Pensions Limited.

The marriage between the two PFAs was made possible after Access Holdings acquired an indirect equity stake in Sigma.

Recall that in October, the company announced that it was buying a stake in Sigma to revolutionise the PFA sector.

On Thursday, a court approved the merger between the firm and FGPL, giving room for the organisations to become one and offer innovative products to customers.

A notice signed by the group company secretary of Access Holdings, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, confirmed the development.

“Sequel to our announcement on October 25, 2022, Access Holdings Plc, trading as Access Corporation, today announces the completion of its acquisition of an indirect equity stake in Sigma and the merger of its subsidiary, FGPL, with Sigma.

“Following the sanction of the scheme of merger between Sigma and FGPL by the Federal High Court on December 1, 2022, FGPL has been dissolved without winding up, leaving Sigma as the surviving entity,” a part of the statement dated Friday, December 2, 2022.

“Following the successful completion of the merger, our plan is to leverage the synergies of these entities, as well as the corporation’s expansive distribution network, strong risk management culture and best-in-class governance standards to create a formidable pension funds administration business,” the group chief executive of Access Holdings, Mr Herbert Wigwe, stated.

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Economy

FrieslandCampina Buoys Unlisted Securities Market by 1.11%

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FrieslandCampina

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the positive zone on Friday, December 2, as it appreciated by 1.11 per cent at the close of business.

This was driven by a gain in the stock price of FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc. The company appreciated by N5.29 price to close at N66.63 per share versus the previous day’s price of N61.34 per share.

This outweighed the 1 Kobo loss recorded by UBN Property Plc during the session as the price of the property investment company went down to 91 Kobo per unit from the preceding session’s 92 Kobo.

When the market closed for the day, the total value of the unlisted securities market increased by N10.27 billion to N933.71 billion from N923.44 billion.

In the same vein, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) stretched by 7.82 basis points to 710.58 basis points from the 702.76 basis points in the previous session.

During the session, there was a surge in the volume of securities by 140,993.7 per cent as investors exchanged 2.2 million units, in contrast to the previous day’s 14,508 units.

Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session ballooned by 1,526.6 per cent to N10.7 million from the N657,534.75 recorded a day earlier, while the number of deals improved by 400 per cent to 20 deals from four deals.

When the market closed for the day, AG Mortgage Bank Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc occupied second place with 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, while Lighthouse Financials Services Plc was in third place with 224.7 million units valued at N112.3 million.

Also, CSCS Plc ended the day as the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) by trading 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 29.1 billion units valued at N7.7 billion, and FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc was in third place after selling 16.8 million units worth N1.9 billion.

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