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Access Bank, GTCo, FCMB, Others Pay N1 Billion Plus in Penalties for Violations in 2022

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First Bank

In a startling revelation, several prominent Nigerian banks have found themselves in the crosshairs of regulatory authorities, facing hefty penalties for various violations during the year 2022.

Access Bank, GTCo, FCMB, and other major players in the Nigerian banking sector have collectively paid over N1 billion in fines, as disclosed in their recently filed financial reports.

The infractions that attracted these penalties spanned a wide range of regulatory areas. Mismatched account details, infringement of foreign exchange guidelines, delays in rendering monthly and daily returns, publishing unapproved adverts, and engaging in unethical conduct were some of the violations that drew the attention of regulatory bodies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Securities and Exchange Commission, the National Insurance Commission, and the Pension Commission.

Access Bank, one of the leading financial institutions in the country, faced the highest penalty burden, with total fines amounting to N604 million paid to the CBN. This figure includes N2 million paid for breaching the accounts’ administration agreement on March 11, 2022.

Additionally, Access Bank incurred fines of N2 million for incorrect account openings and mismatched details.

Violations of foreign exchange regulatory guidelines cost the bank N100 million and N500 million in separate penalties.

GTCo (Guaranty Trust Company) and FCMB (First City Monument Bank) also faced substantial fines for regulatory non-compliance. While the exact breakdown of fines for each bank is yet to be disclosed, the penalties contributed significantly to the overall sum of N1 billion plus paid by the banking institutions.

The penalties levied on the banks serve as a stark reminder of the increasing scrutiny and emphasis on regulatory compliance in Nigeria’s financial sector. Authorities are becoming more vigilant in ensuring that banks adhere to guidelines and ethical standards to maintain the integrity of the financial system and safeguard the interests of customers and investors.

The fines not only act as a deterrent but also highlight the need for greater diligence and adherence to regulatory frameworks by banks and financial institutions. Regulatory violations can have severe consequences, leading to reputational damage, financial losses, and erosion of public trust.

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

Federal High Court Sets Date for Contempt Hearing in GTB vs. AFEX Loan Case

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The Federal High Court in Lagos has scheduled June 27, 2024, for the next hearing in the ongoing contempt suit filed by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) against directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

The case revolves around a disputed N17.81 billion loan obtained under the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Anchor Borrowers’ Programme.

Presiding over the court, Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke set the date following a session where arguments were presented by the plaintiff’s lead counsel, Mr. Ade Adedeji (SAN), and the respondent’s counsel, Prof. Olawoyin (SAN).

The core issue pertains to the alleged disobedience of a court order by the directors of AFEX Exchange Commodities Limited.

GTB, through its counsel Ajibola Aribisala (SAN), has accused AFEX and its directors—Ayodele Balogun, Jendayi Fraaser, Justin Topilow, Mobolaji Adeoye, and Koonal Ghandi—of contempt for failing to comply with a court directive.

The bank alleges that these directors did not appear in court as mandated, which led to the initiation of contempt proceedings.

During the latest session, Adedeji emphasized the necessity for the directors to appear in person, stating, “My lord, the parties in contempt are not in court. The contemnors cannot sit in the comfort of their homes and send a lawyer to court in contempt proceedings. The law is trite that they must appear before the court.”

In response, Olawoyin argued that he had only recently been briefed on the matter and was not fully aware of the prior developments.

He noted that some of the individuals listed as directors were no longer with the company, adding that one current director, Mr. Akinyinka, was present in court, while another was on pilgrimage.

The contempt case traces back to a suit marked FHC/L/CS/911/2024, where GTB sought to recover the loan amount through legal measures.

On May 27, Justice Aneke granted an interim Global Standing Instruction (GSI) injunction, which directs over 20 banks to transfer funds credited to AFEX into its account with GTB until the debt is settled.

Also, the court authorized GTB to take possession of AFEX’s 16 warehouses across seven states and sell the commodities stored within, as these were procured using the CBN’s loan facility.

The N17.81 billion loan comprises N15.77 billion in principal and interest outstanding as of April 17, 2024, and an additional N2.04 billion covering recovery costs and incidental expenses.

As the court prepares for the next hearing, the financial and legal communities are closely watching the proceedings.

The outcome will significantly impact not only the involved parties but also set a precedent for handling similar cases in the future.

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Banking Sector

CRC Credit Bureau Celebrates 15 Years with Record 14% Credit Penetration in Nigeria

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Retail Sales

CRC Credit Bureau Limited celebrated its 15th anniversary with a record 14% credit penetration rate.

The occasion was marked with the CRC Finance and Credit Conference 2024 held in Lagos, where key industry stakeholders gathered to reflect on the bureau’s journey and discuss future trends in credit risk management.

Founded in January 2010 and licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), CRC Credit Bureau has played a pivotal role in enhancing access to credit across Nigeria.

Dr. Tunde Popoola, the Group Managing Director/CEO of CRC Credit Bureau Limited, highlighted the bureau’s journey, noting that from its inception with a single product, CRC has expanded its offerings to 18 products covering all aspects of the lending value chain.

Speaking at the conference, Dr. Popoola underscored the bureau’s contribution to Nigeria’s financial sector, stating, “CRC Credit Bureau has been instrumental in transforming access to credit in Nigeria over the past 15 years. We started with a vision to simplify credit access through reliable data and have since grown to serve millions of Nigerians.”

The event focused on the theme “Sustainable Financing Options: Innovations in Credit Risk Management,” emphasizing the importance of sustainable finance amid economic challenges.

The conference provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss strategies for mitigating risks and enhancing the efficiency of credit operations in Nigeria.

Reflecting on the current state of credit penetration, Dr. Popoola noted that while Nigeria has made significant progress, the 14% penetration rate still falls below global benchmarks.

He highlighted that CRC Credit Bureau currently holds credit scores for 33 million Nigerians, facilitating over 29.4 million searches in 2023 alone, with an additional 10 million searches conducted in the first quarter of 2024.

Joel Owoade, Chairman of CRC’s Board of Directors, acknowledged the economic headwinds impacting businesses in Nigeria but stressed the importance of sustainable financing to mitigate risks associated with lending.

“As we navigate economic fluctuations, sustainable financing remains crucial to fostering economic stability and growth,” Owoade remarked.

The conference also featured insights from industry experts on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in credit risk management and regulatory frameworks to support AI-driven innovations.

Olaniyi Yusuf, Managing Partner of Verraki, highlighted the potential of AI to create jobs and enhance economic productivity, calling for supportive regulatory environments that balance innovation with risk management.

Representatives from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) emphasized the regulator’s efforts to promote sustainable credit practices.

Dr. Adetona Adedeji, Acting Director of the Banking Supervision Department at CBN, outlined initiatives such as the National Collateral Registry and Global Standing Instruction aimed at enhancing credit access while minimizing risks.

As CRC Credit Bureau looks ahead, Dr. Popoola expressed optimism about the future, stating, “We remain committed to driving greater financial inclusion and expanding credit access in Nigeria. Our focus is on leveraging technology and strategic partnerships to deliver innovative solutions that meet the evolving needs of consumers and lenders.”

The celebration of CRC Credit Bureau’s 15th anniversary underscored its pivotal role in Nigeria’s financial sector, marking a milestone in the nation’s journey towards broader financial inclusion and sustainable economic growth.

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Banking Sector

Guaranty Trust Holding Plans N500 Billion Share Offering

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Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc (GTCOPLC) has announced plans to raise up to N500 billion through a new share offering, according to a preliminary prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This move aims to support the company’s ambitious growth and expansion strategy.

GTCOPLC’s proposed offering will involve the subscription of ordinary shares of 50 kobo each, although the exact number of shares and the price range are yet to be determined.

The offering includes a concurrent filing of a preliminary universal shelf registration statement, allowing the company to issue various types of securities, potentially raising up to $750 million in multiple currencies.

Purpose of the Offering

The funds raised from this offering will primarily be allocated towards:

  1. Business Growth and Expansion: GTCOPLC plans to invest significantly in technology infrastructure to enhance its current operations. Additionally, the company intends to establish new subsidiaries and make selective acquisitions of non-banking businesses.
  2. Recapitalization of Guaranty Trust Bank Limited: Part of the proceeds will be used to strengthen the capital base of its banking subsidiary.

Target Investors and Structure

The offering is structured to attract both institutional and retail investors. It will be divided into two main tranches:

  • Nigerian Tranche: An institutional and retail offering aimed at eligible investors within Nigeria.
  • International Tranche: A private placement targeting qualified institutional buyers outside Nigeria.

Listing and Trading

GTCOPLC has also filed an application with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX) to list and admit the new ordinary shares for trading on the NGX Official List.

The company anticipates opening the offering by July 2024.

Financial Strategy

The universal shelf registration will enable GTCOPLC to issue a variety of securities over time, with a total value of up to $750 million (or its equivalent in Nigerian Naira).

This approach provides the company with flexibility to raise capital in different markets during the programme’s validity period. The current proposed offering will be the first issuance under this new programme.

Regulatory Compliance

GTCOPLC emphasized that this notice does not constitute an offer of securities for sale in the United States or to U.S. persons, as defined under Regulation S of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933.

The offered shares have not been, and will not be, registered under the U.S. Securities Act or any state securities laws, and cannot be sold in the United States without proper registration or an applicable exemption.

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