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Governor Forfeits N500m as States Get N243b Refund

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the Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs)
  • Governor Forfeits N500m as States Get N243b Refund

A governor has forfeited to the Federal Government the N500 million he allegedly laundered in a mortgage bank.

A Federal High Court in Abuja approved an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for the forfeiture of the cash, which is believed to have been diverted from the London-Paris Club refund.

Also, the court has seized $500,000 of the $3million diverted by another governor from the refund for the building of a 100-room hotel in Lagos.

But the court has given a 14-day deadline to anyone or group who has interest in the funds to show cause why the cash should not be forfeited to the government.

The federal government yesterday released a state-by-state breakdown of another tranche of Paris Club refund of over-deductions on Paris Club/London Club loans and multilateral debts on the accounts of states and local governments from 1995-2002.

A statement from the Ministry of Finance said these payments — N243, 795,465,195.20 —”were made to the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory upon the approval of the President on May 4, 2017”.

Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Kano and Rivers states received the largest disbursements of N10 billion each.

According to the enrolment order, which was obtained last night by our correspondent, Justice Nnamdi Dimgba granted EFCC’s prayer for an interim forfeiture of the cash traced to both First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited and Gosh Projects Limited.

While N500million was linked with the bank, about $500,000 was credited to the account of the Gosh Projects Limited as part of the cash for the 100-room hotel.

The EFCC legal team, led by Prince S.B. Ikani, filed an ex-parte motion on June 19.

The anti-graft agency sought for an order of:

interim forfeiture to the Federal Government (1st Applicant) of the N500million recovered from the first respondent, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited and presently in the possession of EFCC in its Recovered Funds Account domiciled at the CBN; interim forfeiture to the Federal Government (1st Applicant) of the sum of $500,000 recovered from the second respondent, Gosh Projects Limited and presently in the possession of EFCC in its Recovered Funds Account domiciled at the CBN; and directing the publication of a notice in any national daily newspaper inviting any person(s) or body who may have interest in the subject funds to, within 14 days of the publication of the Order, show cause why an Order of final forfeiture to the Federal Government of the said funds should not be made.

Justice Dimgba said: “Upon reading the affidavit in support of the motion ex-parte deposed to by Osas Azonabor and after hearing Prince B. S. Ikani for the applicants, it is hereby ordered as follows:

“That an order is hereby made granting interim forfeiture to the Federal Government of N500million recovered from First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited and presently in possession of EFCC in its Recovered Funds Account domiciled at the CBN.”

“That an order is hereby made granting interim forfeiture to the Federal Government of $500,000 recovered from Gosh Projects Limited and presently in possession of EFCC in its Recovered Funds Account domiciled at the CBN.”

The court asked person(s) or body interested in the funds to come up with a claim within 14 days or lose the cash.

Besides the forfeiture of the cash, the EFCC indicated last night that the two governors implicated in the diversion of the funds will face trial after their tenure.

A source in EFCC said: “We have been unable to join the governors as respondents because they have immunity in line with Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, which prevents any law enforcement agency from prosecuting them for criminal cases.

“But the case-files have shown their complicity on how they diverted the London-Paris Club refunds to personal use. Those affected will complete their tenure in two years.

“One of the governors is noted for mass looting of public funds. His cup is full with anti-corruption agencies

“As for others used in laundering the cash, we will prosecute them after the final forfeiture of the cash because in seeking justice, you cannot build something on nothing.”

Before the release of the second tranche of London-Paris Club refund on Monday, the Presidency had remitted about N1.266.44trillion to the 36 states in the past one and a half years including N713.70billion special intervention funds.

Following a protest by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002, President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of N522.74 billion (first tranche) to states as refund pending reconciliation of records.

Each state was entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion being 25% of the amounts claimed.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun said the payment of the claims would enable states to offset outstanding salaries and pension, which had been “causing considerable hardship”.

The governors sought for the loan refund to states and local governments at a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari on May 24, 2016.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Finance

Nasdaq Set To Launch Options Trading For Coinbase Global

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Less than a week after the largest crypto exchange in the U.S. Coinbase was listed, Nasdaq is set to start trading options for Coinbase Global.

According to Reuters, a representative for Coinbase stated that the COIN.O options will start trading on Nasdaq on Tuesday, April 20.

The launch of equity options will offer a new way for investors to bet on the fortunes of Coinbase. Equity options represent the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell a stock at a certain price, known as the strike price, on or before an expiration date.

The news follows Coinbase’s direct listing, which saw the firm’s stock fluctuate between a valuation of $429.54 and $310 on its first day of trading.

It was reported that the Chief Executive Officer of Coinbase, Brian Armstrong sold less than 2% of his holdings which worth about $292 million in shares on COIN’s first day of trading. According to filings made with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Armstrong sold 749,999 shares in three batches at prices ranging from $381 to $410.40 per share for total proceeds of $291.8 million.

It was also reported that insiders dumped nearly $5 billion in COIN stock shortly after it was listed. Filings on the Coinbase Investor Relations website showed a total of 12,965,079 shares were sold by insiders, worth over $4.6 billion at COIN’s $344 share price at close on Friday.

Yahoo Finance reported the stock has slumped 22.5% from a high of $429.54 on April 14 to a current after-hours trading price of $332.75 where it appears to have settled after Monday’s trading session.

On April 20, Coinbase Pro announced that will add support for new trading pairs for Basic Attention Token (BAT), Cardano (ADA), Decentraland (MANA), and USDC from April 20. The four assets will be paired with three fiat currencies (USD, EUR, GBP), BTC, and ETH, with limited trading functionality to be made available while market liquidity is assessed at launch.

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Banking Sector

Unity Bank Grows Asset by 67.90% to N492.02 Billion, As Gross Earnings Hit N42.71 Billion in FY 2020

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Unity Bank Plc grew its assets base to N492.02billion representing a significant increase of 67.90% from the N293.05 billion of total assets value recorded in 2019. This is even as the agric-focused lender declared gross earnings of N42.71 billion within the period under review.

A review of the Bank’s audited results for full-year ended 31 December 2020, released to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, showed that the Bank improved its bottom line marginally as Profit After Tax, PAT stood at N2.09 billion. Profit Before Tax, PBT closed at N2.22 billion, in a year that was defined by the unmitigated impact of global pandemic characterized by disruptions in business activities and the general downturn that resulted in revenue/returns dip in major leading sectors globally.

The lender substantially grew its customers’ deposit portfolio to N356.62 billion, up from N257.69 billion in the corresponding period of 2019, representing a 38.4% growth. This affirms positive market uptake of the Bank’s product offerings, as well as the lender’s growing customer base to its recent aggressive push with agile customer-centric products, which has played a role in deepening financial services penetration, especially to a wider world, an underserved spectrum of the retail market.

Other major highlight of the audited financial statement relates to growth in its net operating income which rose to N25.46 billion from N23.21 billion in the corresponding period of 2019, representing a 9.71% increase. This is even as the net interest income recorded a significant jump, as it rose by 7.60% to N17.75 billion from N16.49 billion in the corresponding period of 2019. Earnings per Share closed at 17.85 Kobo.

The Bank’s gross loans portfolio increased by 92.9% to N206.2 billion in December 2020 from N106.9 billion in December 2019. The Bank’s lending strategy was specially tailored to support the nation’s food agenda. This had the added advantage of improving food security across the country, providing employment to thousands of youths and entrepreneurs, contributing to the conservation of FX stocks and mitigating security challenges by ensuring adequate empowerment of citizens and deepening skills acquisition across the value chain.

Commenting on the result, Unity Bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Tomi Somefun stated that the results showed the resilience of the Bank during unprecedented times of uncertainties and our ability to innovate and focus on key balance sheet items that will enable us to maintain the growth trajectory.

She further opined that: “Consequently, for the year under review, the opportunities to significantly create more quality assets for the business, thought to have a sustainable impact, informed part of choices made and we have seen some encouraging market uptake in this regard, apart from the benefits to the enterprise bottom-line that have also started trickling in. Other key performance indicators especially on the liability side of the business were equally not left out. The Bank deployed new product features and augmentation supported by omni-channel, USSD promotions and other channels to enhance services delivery efficiency, drive income generation capacities and enhance steady balance sheet growth for the year”.

Looking ahead, Somefun stated: “we will latch on targeted strategies to deploy significant investment in technology in order to ride the waves of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the back of this, the Bank focuses on achieving major efficiency gains, deepening its retail footprints and penetrating identified cluster market segments, as bulwarks to tapping into various youth markets platforms, in addition to the mass market would get a further boost”.

While laying an outlook for the future, the Unity Bank’s Chief further stated: “The Bank is also looking to consolidate on the gains from its core business areas and niche in the agribusiness sector. The Bank has solidly financed over one million farmers over the past three years. These farmers cut across several primary crop production such as rice, maize, cotton, wheat, sorghum, etc coupled with their rich value chains, and we hope to continue to expand on this as we play our part in driving the country’s quest for self-sufficiency in food production.”

Analysts are of the view that has made an appreciable impact in the agribusiness and its value chains consistently, the market is excited that the current year performance and different initiatives of the Bank show that the agribusiness is bankable not only as a differential positioning but also for sustainable business performance and profitability.

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Banking Sector

Access Bank To Acquire BancABC Botswana

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Access Bank Plc on Monday disclosed that it had entered into a definitive and binding agreement with ABC Holdings Limited to acquire 78.15 per cent shareholding in African Banking Corporation of Botswana Limited (BancABC Botswana).

The transaction, which is subject to regulatory approvals and customary conditions precedent, is expected to close before the end of this quarter.

ABC Holdings is a subsidiary of London Stock Exchange listed group – Atlas Mara Limited.

Access Bank disclosed this in a statement signed by its Company Secretary, Sunday Ekwochi.

Bostwana is renowned for its quality sovereign credit rating and stability. Access Bank’s market entry is expected to further solidify its strategy as, “a strong banking partner in key verticals across retail and corporate banking, including especially supporting trade in payments across southern Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa more broadly.”

Commenting on the deal, the GMD/CEO, Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe, said: “We remain committed to a disciplined and thoughtful expansion strategy in Africa, which we believe will create strong, sustainable returns for our shareholders and stakeholders at large, over the medium and long-term.

“The establishment of Access Bank through this acquisition in the Republic of Botswana will position the bank to deliver a more complete set of banking solutions to its clients active in and across the SADC and COMESA regions.

“This transaction complements our recent strategic growth acquisitions in South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique. We are building a bank of the future that Africans across Africa and the world would be proud of and look forward to welcoming the employees, customers and other stakeholders of BancABC Bostawana to Access Bank.”

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