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FG Steps up Efforts to Repatriate $321m from Switzerland

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  • FG Steps up Efforts to Repatriate $321m from Switzerland

The federal government has stepped up efforts aimed at repatriating $321 million looted funds from Switzerland before the end of the year.

The announcement was made on Monady by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Justice Reforms, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku, at an anti-corruption campaign organised by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) in Abuja.

Ibekaku noted that as a result of the efforts made so far by the present administration, part of the Malabu Oil deal funds held by the court in the United Kingdom had been recovered.

The presidential aide said: “We are also working to finalise the process for the return of $321million and by December, we are going to sign the MoU for the return of the money held in Switzerland.

“I am happy to also note here that some civil society organisations working in the area of asset recovery were involved in the negotiation of the MoU and will be involved in monitoring the assets.

“This is to ensure that the returned funds are managed in a transparent manner as other recovery plans continue in countries like UK, Island of Jersey and France.”

Ibekaku said that the federal government had also opened up discussion with the US government for the return of the money that left that country for two or three years from 2013.

She explained that the recovery mission was hinged on the Open Government Partnership Initiative which was committed to four thematic areas: Transparency, Anti-corruption, Access to information, Citizen Engagement and Empowerment.

The presidential aide said the president has also directed all the law enforcement agencies to put all recovered money in the central account.

Ibekaku said that the president also directed that asset recovery should now be ploughed into the budget to fund part of it, starting from 2017 “so that is what the money is being used for.”

She further clarified that all the money being recovered by the anti-corruption agencies would go towards funding part of the budget.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of CDD, Ms Idayat Hassan stated that the event was organised with support from the Open Society Initiative for West Africa and the Department for International Development.

According to her, the event is getting answers to some questions on the recovered money.
Hassan said it was obvious that tackling corruption remained one of the president’s main priorities.

She said it was in line with the president’s vision that the event was organised, to provide a platform for constructive review and interrogate government’s approach to anti-graft campaign.

The executive director added that the platform also sought to proffer alternative opinions for robust, effective and sustained interventions in the anti-corruption fight and effective usage of the recovered money.

She called on the government to carry Nigerians along on the amount recovered so far and how the money was being spent to boost their confidence on the administration’s policies and programmes.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Banking Sector

Ebenezer Onyeagwu Caps a Stellar Tenure With Banking CEO of The Year in Africa in The International Banker Awards 2024 For The Second Consecutive Year

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The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, has been named the ‘Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa’ at the International Banker 2024 Banking Awards, retaining this title for the second consecutive year.

This award, published in the Spring 2024 issue of International Banker Magazine, United Kingdom, coincides with Dr.

Onyeagwu’s completion of his five-year tenure as Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer on May 31, 2024.

Speaking on receiving the award, Dr. Onyeagwu expressed his gratitude to the publishers of International Banker for the honour.

He stated, “It is indeed an honour to be recognised as the ‘Best Banking CEO of the Year in Africa’ for a second consecutive year. This award is a testament to our team’s collective efforts and our commitment to innovation, growth, and delivering value to our customers and stakeholders. It also reflects our dedication to sustainability and high ethical standards, which are integral to our overall strategy. I am immensely proud of our accomplishments and look forward to future opportunities for the bank as I hand over the baton to my successor and begin the mandatory regulatory cooling-off period.”

Dr. Onyeagwu dedicated the award to the Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc, Dr. Jim Ovia, CFR, for his mentorship, which was crucial to his success as Group Managing Director/CEO; to the bank’s management team and staff for their unwavering commitment over the past five years; and to the bank’s customers for their loyalty.

Throughout his distinguished tenure, Dr. Onyeagwu has received multiple awards, including Bank CEO of the Year (2019, 2023) by Champion Newspaper, Bank CEO of the Year (2020–2023) by BusinessDay Newspaper, CEO of the Year (2020 and 2021) – SERAS Awards, and CEO of the Year (2022) – Leadership Newspaper, and Banking CEO of the Year, Africa (2023) – International Banker.

Appointed as the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer on June 1, 2019, as part of Zenith Bank’s succession planning strategy, Dr. Onyeagwu has led the bank to achieve significant milestones in financial performance, financial inclusion, corporate governance, and sustainability.

These achievements have earned the bank numerous local and international awards, including being named Best Bank in Nigeria for the fourth time in five years from 2020 to 2022 and in 2024 by the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards; Best Bank for Digital Solutions in Nigeria by the Euromoney Awards 2023; being listed in the World Finance Top 100 Global Companies in 2023; and being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the 14th consecutive year in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking published by The Banker Magazine.

Zenith Bank has also been honoured as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023 by the World Finance Banking Awards; Best Corporate Governance Bank in Nigeria by the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards 2022 and 2023; Bank of the Year (Nigeria) by The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards in 2020 and 2022; and Best in Corporate Governance Financial Services Africa for four successive years from 2020 to 2023 by Ethical Boardroom.

Other recognitions include Most Sustainable Bank in Nigeria at the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria, and Best Innovation in Retail Banking in Nigeria at the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Additionally, Zenith Bank was named the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands 2020 and 2021; Bank of the Year 2023 and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards; Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020; Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper; Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper; and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS.

In recognition of his significant contributions to the financial services sector in Nigeria and across Africa, Dr. Onyeagwu was awarded a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, on March 25, 2023, during the university’s 50th convocation ceremony.

Published by Finance Publishing Limited, the International Banker is a leading global source of authoritative analysis and opinion on banking, finance and world affairs. Its influence, integrity, accuracy and objective opinion have earned it global recognition.

The International Banker Awards strive to recognise the most worthy financial institutions around the world – those not just doing their jobs well but exceptionally well – those operating at the industry’s cutting edge and setting new performance levels to which others will aspire.

The 2024 Banking Awards focused on various criteria, including the provision of much-needed capital for economic growth, cutting-edge innovation to enhance security and efficiency, commitment to sustainability and ESG principles, as well as intelligent investing to maximise profits and shareholder value.

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Banking Sector

SEC to Launch Comprehensive Framework for Bank Recapitalisation

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Securities and Exchange Commission

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced its plans to release a comprehensive framework designed to guide the capital market through the proposed bank recapitalisation exercise.

This announcement was made by the acting Director General of the SEC, Emomotimi Agama, during a meeting with the executives of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars in Abuja on Friday.

Speaking at the meeting, Agama emphasized the commission’s commitment to addressing all outstanding issues in a manner that serves the best interests of the market. “We are on top of the issues around the recapitalisation exercise.

Very soon, we will come up with a framework to guide the market. The idea is to interact with you all.

There may be things hanging, and due to the transition, we do not want to miss anything. It will still be attended to in the interest of the market,” Agama stated.

He further highlighted the collaborative approach the SEC intends to take, stressing the importance of working together with various sectors of the capital market to ensure a smooth transition.

“We will come up with a framework to move the market. We are in this together, and we will continue to work and do our best. This is our constituency, and we will do our best. We crave your cooperation to help us deal with major challenges,” he added.

One of the critical challenges the SEC aims to tackle is the issue of unclaimed dividends. Agama described unclaimed dividends as a “monster” that must be dealt with urgently. He called on registrars to adopt technology as a key solution to this persistent problem.

“Unclaimed dividends are a monster that we must deal with now. Whatever it will take to deal with it, we must do it. We must embrace technology as one of the ways to deal with it. Let us put our thoughts together and provide a workable solution; let us ensure that this becomes a thing of the past. We need to provide a solution, and the time is now. As custodians, we implore you to provide practicable steps to address this issue,” Agama urged.

Supporting this stance, SEC’s acting Executive Commissioner of Operations, Bola Ajomale, noted that technology adoption is the most effective approach to ensuring punctuality and sanitizing the system.

Ajomale reiterated the importance of modernizing processes to enhance efficiency and transparency in the capital market.

The President of the Institute of Capital Market Registrars, Seyi Owoturo, responded positively to the SEC’s initiatives. He congratulated the new SEC management on their appointment and pledged that the registrars would act in the best interests of the capital market.

“I congratulate the new SEC management on their appointment, and I pledge that the registrars will continue to work in the interest of the capital market,” Owoturo stated.

This upcoming framework is expected to provide clear guidelines and a robust structure for the recapitalisation of banks, aimed at bolstering financial stability and investor confidence.

As the SEC prepares to unveil this framework, stakeholders across the capital market are keenly anticipating its release, hopeful that it will address current challenges and lay a strong foundation for future growth.

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Banking Sector

Nigerian Banks Earn N438bn from Digital Channels in 2023

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First Bank

Nigerian banks collectively generated N438 billion from digital banking channels in 2023. This represents a 37.54% increase from the N318.64 billion recorded in the previous year.

An in-depth analysis of the annual reports of ten major financial institutions reveals this substantial growth.

The banks, which include FBN Holdings, Access Holdings, Guaranty Trust Holding Company, United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank, Wema Bank, Fidelity Bank, FCMB Group, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, and Sterling Financial Holdings Company, have seen a surge in revenue from their electronic business operations.

These operations encompass a variety of digital platforms such as mobile applications, USSD channels, automated teller machines (ATMs), agency banking, internet banking, and point-of-sale (POS) payments, as well as credit and debit card transactions.

Leading the charge was United Bank for Africa (UBA), which reported an income of N125.58 billion from its electronic banking channels, a significant increase from the N78.94 billion recorded in 2022.

This robust performance underscores UBA’s strong digital banking presence and customer adoption.

Access Holdings also demonstrated a substantial increase, recording N101.62 billion from its electronic business activities. This marks a 70.34% rise compared to the previous year’s earnings.

Similarly, FBN Holdings reported N66.34 billion in revenue from its digital channels, up from N55.09 billion in 2022.

The bank attributed this growth to a rise in electronic banking fees and a broader customer acquisition drive through digital platforms.

Zenith Bank’s earnings from electronic banking fees reached N51.82 billion, showing a 13.29% growth from the previous year’s N45.74 billion.

GTCO saw its e-business income rise to N40.83 billion, up from N37.74 billion.

FCMB also reported an increase in revenue from electronic fees and commissions, reaching N17.69 billion compared to N13.99 billion in the prior year.

Fidelity Bank experienced a 20.30% rise in its e-business earnings, totaling N14.03 billion. Sterling HoldCo reported N8.588 billion from e-business commissions and fees, an increase from N7.16 billion.

Wema Bank, which prides itself on being the pioneer of Africa’s first fully digital bank, ALAT, saw its digital fees grow to N7.35 billion from N6.13 billion.

Stanbic IBTC Holdings, although reporting the least income from electronic business among the reviewed banks, still saw significant growth, with earnings rising to N4.42 billion from N2.51 billion in 2022.

The increase in digital banking revenues reflects a broader trend of technological adoption within the Nigerian financial sector.

Analysts have identified the shift towards mobile and online banking as a key driver of this growth, a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic which pushed more customers towards digital solutions.

Afolabi Olowookere, Managing Director and Chief Economist at ADSR, highlighted the sector’s robust growth and its increasing contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He noted, “The sector is growing, hence its contribution to the GDP will also grow. After COVID-19, the financial sector and ICT have been growing because people do a lot of transactions online.”

As digital banking continues to expand, Nigerian banks are expected to further invest in technological advancements and enhance their digital platforms, driving greater financial inclusion and offering more convenient banking solutions to customers nationwide.

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