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CBN Directs Banks to go After COVID-19 Financial Criminals

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Godwin Emefile

Central Bank Asks Banks to Stay Abreast Frauds and Rising COVID-19 Financial Crimes

The Central Bank of Nigeria has directed all financial institutions in Nigeria to update alert protocols in their Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism monitoring tools, in accordance with emerging trends of rising COVID-19 related financial crimes.

In a circular titled, ‘Administrative letters to all banks and other financial institutions’ issued on Monday and signed by J.M. Gana, the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, the apex bank said changes in business activities and financial transactions due to the shift caused by COVID-19 pandemic have led to the surge in financial crimes globally.

Therefore, it said financial institutions must now adapt quickly and keep abreast of the new emerging financial risks and other developments to arrest this new and emerging ML/TF.

According to the circular, this includes strategic investment in data mining and artificial intelligence software to monitor financial transactions effectively and report as quickly as possible.

The central bank said the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, the central repository of suspicious transactions and other financial information, had released a comprehensive report on STRs and others.

It stated that the NFIU had identified cybercrimes, frauds, counterfeiting and substandard goods, diversion of public funds and misuse of non-government organisations funds as some of the ongoing crimes that banks across the nation need to stay abreast and report.

Other suspicious transactions and red flags identified in the report were some e-commerce companies with little or zero history or internet presence suddenly receiving multiple payments from unrelated third parties.

Similarly, it said individuals with zero or little history of financial transactions receiving multiple payments from unrelated third parties. It also noted that customers who suddenly start delaying in the supply or purchases of medical supplies and payment of goods linked to known brands, yet the beneficiary is an individual, not a corporate company should be flagged.

The measures, the apex bank said were necessary due to the rising numbers of unusual transactions from banks’ customers and unscrupulous individuals.

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

CBN Maintains 11.5 Percent Monetary Policy Rate, Leaves Other Ratios Unchanged

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The Central Bank of Nigeria led Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has left the interest rate unchanged at 11.5 percent to further stimulate activities in the real sector of the economy.

Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria disclosed this at the end of the MPC meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.

He said other parameters, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR), Liquidity ratio, and asymmetric corridor, were left unchanged.

According to the Governor, the committee voted unanimously to maintain the current monetary policy and attributed the surge in inflation to structural policies, the increase in pump price and the recent #EndSARS protest.

Highlights of CBN-MPC’s  Decision

  • MPR was kept at 11.50%
  • The asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR
  • CRR was retained at 27.5%
  • Liquid Ratio was also kept at 30%

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Finance

Unity Bank Grew Gross Earnings by 8 Percent to N34 Billion in Nine Months

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Unity Bank Plc grew gross earnings by 8 percent despite COVID-19 and other headwinds that hurt the profitability of most businesses in the first nine months of the year.

A break down of the bank’s unaudited financial results for the period showed gross earnings rose by 8 percent to N33.91 billion for the nine months ended September 30, 2020, up from N31.26 billion posted in the same period of last year.

The lender’s total assets rose by 44 percent from N293.05 billion in the corresponding period of 2019 to N420.87 billion in the period under review.

Unity Bank grew profit before tax from N1.61 billion in 2019 to N1.71 billion in the period under review, while profit after tax expanded from N1.48 billion in the corresponding period to N1.57 billion in 2020.

Customers’ deposits stood at N332.36 billion during the period under review, up from N257.69 billion posted in 2019.

Commenting on the performance, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Unity Bank Plc, expressed delight at the strong growth recorded across the bank’s balance sheet, especially from both the liability and assets side of the business and across key indices.

She said, “even as the bank continues to innovate in its e-business product bouquet to target and support value chain business with robust technology and thus diversify its earnings base.”

Somefun said, “One of the areas that will define our strategic direction going forward is investment in alternative channels, leveraging further deployment of resources in technology.

“COVID-19 gave us a chance to test the integrity and scalability of our technology, the IT infrastructure, and the electronic banking channels, and provided us an opportunity to see where we needed to improve and strengthen, knowing that the future of sustainable banking business is in alternative channels.”

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Financial Sector Grew by 6.8 Percent in the Third Quarter

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Central Bank

The finance and insurance sector that comprises of both the financial institutions and insurance subsectors grew by 5.91 percent year-on-year in nominal terms in the third quarter (Q3).

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) latest report, the financial institutions’ subsector accounted for 88.89 percent of the sector in real terms in the quarter under review while the insurance subsector contributed the remaining 11.11 percent.

During the third quarter of 2020, the financial institutions’ subsector grew by 6.8 percent in Q3 2020 from 28.41 percent in Q2 2020 and 0.61 percent in Q3 2019 despite COVID-19 and a tough operating environment. The insurance subsector, however, contracted by -18.67 percent in Q3 2020 from -29.53 percent in Q2 2020 and 3.96 percent in Q3 2019.

On a quarterly basis, the sector declined by 24.76 percent.

In terms of contribution to GDP, the finance and insurance sector contributed 2.46 percent in Q3 2020, higher than the 2.40 percent it represented a year ago and lower than the contribution of 3.76 percent achieved in the previous quarter.

The economy contracted by 3.62 percent in the third quarter following a 6.10 percent decline posted in the second quarter. Nigeria is officially in the second economic recession in four years.

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