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Access Bank Denies Wrongdoing in Sale of N2.5Bn Customer’s Goods

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Access Bank Plc has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the alleged sale of a customer’s goods worth N2.5 billion.

 

The Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos had charged Access Bank Plc, its Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Herbert Wigwe, and others with 21 counts of conspiracy, fraudulent disposal of trust property, fraudulent conversion, stealing and false representation before an Ogun State High Court.

 

Access Bank Plc , Mr Wigwe, Alawode Oluseye and Bayo Adesina are accused of conspiring and stealing 23,754.413 metric tonnes of steel billets valued at ₦2.5 billion belonging to BMCE Bank International Plc.

 

But in a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), on Monday, Access Bank however denied the allegations, stressing that at no time did the bank or any of its executives or officers commit any of the alleged offences.

 

The statement reads:

 

“In 2015, Access Bank availed credit facilities to Metal Africa Steel Products Limited, to finance the importation of billets and machinery for the expansion of its factory. Consequent upon the grant of the facilities, the bank opened Form M and Letters of Credit (“LC”) to facilitate the importation of the billets for which the shipping documents were consigned to the bank. The facilities were secured by a debentures Trust Deed over the customer’s assets shared with other lenders.

 

“Upon arrival of the billets, the bank released the shipping documents to the customer to enable it clear the goods. The bank subsequently discovered that the customer had cleared the goods from the port without payment of appropriate customs duty.

 

“The bank, in line with its duty to protect its depositors’ funds, reported the alleged crime to SFU which obtained a court order to take over the customer’s business operations. Furthermore, the bank petitioned Interpol, which is presently taking steps to repatriate the suspects involved in the alleged fraud from India. Subsequently, the beneficiary banks (including the bank) under the debentures Trust Deed, appointed a Receiver/Manager who took over the operations of the customer’s business and paid the appropriate customs duty on the billets.

 

“The Receiver/Manager subsequently obtained court order from the Federal High Court and sold the billets and distributed the proceeds amongst the beneficiary banks (including the bank).”

 

The lender further said in the statement that it was “aware that the petitioner also laid claims to the same billets following which there were attempts at settlement between the petitioner and the Receiver/Manager. The petitioner subsequently filed a complaint at SFU following the failure of settlement.

 

“Based on the foregoing, we were surprised to be served with the charges by the SFU alleging, among others, that the bank stole the billets and forged the shipping documents covering the billets.

 

“We hereby state that at no time did the bank or any of its executives or officers commit any of the alleged offences. The bank has continued to maintain the position that it financed the importation of the billets and that the Receiver/Manager appointed by the bank and a syndicate of other lenders had the right to sell the goods. We are aware that there are civil matters in court on the same subject.

 

“We are also aware that there are ongoing settlement negotiations between the Receiver/Manager and the petitioner. Without prejudice to the settlement discussions and the civil matter, we reiterate that the Receiver/Manager appointed by the bank and a syndicate of other lenders acted within its powers to sell the billets.

 

“We wish to assure our stakeholders that the bank will continue to take all necessary steps to protect its depositor’s funds in line with its fiduciary duties as well as extant rules and regulations.” The statement

 

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E-Financial

Access Bank Partners Fintech to Modernise Banking Processes

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Mr. Herbert Wigwe, Group Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, has said that Access Bank has continued to innovate through the creation and adoption of modern banking tools and by leveraging on partnerships with FinTechs such as AFF to reinvent and modernise its banking processes,

He stated this at  the third edition of Africa Fintech Foundry (AFF) Disrupt Conference at the Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island.

Themed ‘Digital Goldrush: Building a Sustainable Tech Economy’, the conference showcased the growing value of data as the future currency of the new tech economy through loads of interactive, fun and engaging sessions, world-class speakers and a phenomenal array of exhibitors who are industry and thought leaders in the technology space.

Wigwe recognised the improvement in global financial processes by advancements in technology and assured that the Bank is keeping up with the trends. “There was a time when payments could only be made through cheques, but with technology, transactions worth billions can be made in seconds. That is how much the world has changed.

A highlight of the conference was the demo pitch session which saw various innovators showcase their applications and new technology, explaining the solutions created to teeming participants. At the end of an intense session, Gricd, whose product, GRICD Frij is an affordable and portable cold chain device for efficient storage of vaccines, blood and other health/agricultural products won, earning a grant of $10,000.

In his keynote address, the Chief Executive Officer of Moven, United Kingdom, Brett King emphasized the importance of technology adoption to banking processes and also addressed the growing fear of robots replacing humans in the banking halls. He said that banking no longer depended on physical spaces, which has reduced the friction in banking processes and massively increased delivery.

“Technology is moving faster than ever before and in an environment with such rapid change, you either disrupt or get disrupted. Hence, if you are resistant to change as a banker in an evolving ecosystem like Nigeria’s, we need to start helping you look for a job outside banking,” he said. At the conference, speakers and panelists identified women as key proponents to ensure the growth and success of financial technology in Nigeria, urging them to be more collaborative and assertive in seeking to disrupt the Nigerian digital space.

Emphasising the point, the Chairman, Zinox Group Nigeria, Leo Stan Ekeh, during an interactive session with Access Bank’s Deputy Group Managing Director, Roosevelt Ogbonna said, “Women are the smartest money makers and disruptors. Investors are looking to invest in female entrepreneurs and techpreneurs working together. So it has become more imperative that women begin to take advantage of these opportunities and the collective power that they have”.

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E-Financial

Banks’ Customers Petition CIBN, Demand N334Bn, $420m from Banks

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Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has said that about 2,122 bank customers lodged complaints against their banks with the Sub–Committee on Ethics and Professionalism of the institute between 2001 and 2018.

 

The CIBN disclosed this in its 2018 annual report and accounts which it released on Saturday.

 

The committee was responsible for resolution of disputes relating to unethical practices between or among banks as well as between banks and their customers.

 

In the report, the customers demanded claims totalling N344.01bn and $420.06m in the period under review.

 

The institute said it resolved 1,993 cases and awarded N30.26bn and $18.41m to the petitioners in 2017.

 

In the report, it stated that 140 cases were outstanding as of the end of 2018.

 

Part of the CIBN report read, “Since inception in 2001, the sub-committee has received a total number of 2,122 petitions/cases with total claims of N344.01bn and $420.06m in local and foreign currencies respectively.

 

“1,993 cases were resolved which resulted to N30.26bn and N18.41m awarded/ refunded to petitioners/ customers by banks.”

 

The institute also said that as of the end of April 2019, it had received 129 new cases with claims amounting to N11.89bn.

 

It also said that in 2019, it had so far awarded N1.83bn in 138 pending cases.

 

The President, CIBN, Dr Uche Olowu, said the Nigerian banking industry witnessed several notable developments in the year under review.

 

“Most importantly was in the area of enhancement and advancement in fintech and digitisation,” he said.

 

He assured that the institute would continue to guard its financial resources while at the same time, ensuring that the implementation of its vision and goals for the institute were not hampered by financial constraints.

 

Seye Awojobi, registrar/chief executive, CIBN, said, the operations of the institute had been in consonance with responsible accounting and consequence management to ensure effectiveness and efficiency of its mandates.

 

He said that in the year under review, the thorough process had propelled the staff members to be more resourceful and focus- driven to achieve their set targets.

 

“Furthermore, it is noteworthy to inform you that the current Strategy Plan (approved in 2016) of the institute would run its full course by September 2019 and adequate process has been put in place by the Research, Strategy & Advocacy Committee towards the development of a new and robust strategy plan that would incorporate the expected actions and deliverables in tandem with dynamics of the business climate.”

 

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E-Financial

Nigeria’s Economic Growth Cools in Q1, Pound Rattled by Political Risk

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By Lukman Otunuga, FXTM Research Analyst,

Growth in the largest economy in Africa slowed to 2.01% during the first quarter of 2019, thanks to external risks and contraction in the Oil sector.

Although the non-Oil sector grew by 2.47%, the Oil sector, which remains the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner, shrank by 2.40%. While Nigeria remains on a quest to break away from the chains of Oil reliance, the nation remains exposed to external shocks and this was reflected in the latest GDP figures. Will the deceleration in growth momentum pressure the Central Bank of Nigeria to cut interest rates in an effort to jumpstart the economy? This is a question on the minds of many investors.

Sterling struggles to nurse wounds as political risk continues to bite

The return of domestic political turmoil in the United Kingdom has led to a flurry of selling momentum for the British Pound, which fell over 300 pips during the previous trading week.

The selling momentum  returned once again in the early hours of Monday morning and the news flow circulating around UK Prime Minister Theresa May needing to state her leaving date, coupled with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stating that Brexit discussions have broken down makes it doubtful for buyers to be tempted back into the GBPUSD.

Taking a look at the technical picture, the GBPUSD remains firmly bearish on both the daily and weekly charts. There have been consistently lower lows and lower highs while the MACD has crossed to the downside. The solid weekly close below 1.2820 has opened the doors towards 1.2700 and 1.2620 in the near term.

 

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Commodity spotlight – Gold

The past few days have certainly not been kind to Gold and this continues to be reflected in the bearish price action.

Signals over the direction of US-China trade talks have caused risk sentiment to swing back and forth, ultimately impacting the appetite for Gold. While Gold bulls are clearly losing the battle as prices trade towards $1274, the war still rages on.

The sentiment pendulum could easily swing in favour of bulls this week, if trade tensions intensify and concerns over slowing global growth accelerate the flight to safety. With Gold still supported by core themes in the form of a cautious Federal Reserve and speculation over a potential US rate cut in 2019, the precious metal remains shielded by downside shocks.

Looking at the technical picture, sustained weakness below $1280 is seen opening a path towards $1268 in the short-to-medium term.

 

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