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23 Banks Got N28.7bn Inflows from Dubious MMM Transactions

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  • 23 Banks Got N28.7bn Inflows from Dubious MMM Transactions

No fewer than 23 Nigerian banks received inflows amounting to N28.7 billion executed in 460,000 transactions through the Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox (MMM) Ponzi scheme within six months, the 2016 annual report of the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) has revealed.

The amount, which was moved between June and December 2016, is 61 per cent higher than the budget of the Federal Ministry of Education and almost six times over the budget of the Nigerian Defence Headquarters (DHQ) in the 2017 budget, the report erroneously stated.

A quick fact-check of the 2017 budget, as passed by the National Assembly, showed that N139.3 billion was allocated to the Ministry of Defence for its capital spending programme for the year, while N330.54 billion was allocated for recurrent expenditure.

In the case of the budget of the education ministry, the National Assembly passed a provision of N398.70 billion for recurrent spending and N56.72 billion for capital expenditure for the year.

The report disclosed that by the time the scheme “crashed” on December 13, 2016, over N11.9 billion had been lost by gullible subscribers.

The NeFF report, which was unveiled in Abuja Tuesday at a stakeholders workshop on cybercrime, organised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), disclosed that since the MMM scheme had a 30-day cycle before return-on-investment (RoI) was realised, everyone who put money into it after November 12, 2016 did not get their money out.

“No fewer than 23 banks received inflows amounting to N28.7 billion executed in 460,000 transactions through the MMM Ponzi scheme. The amount put into the scheme between November 13th and December 15th, 2016 (through interbank transactions) totals over NGN11.9bn. This amount was largely not recovered.

“To put this amount into perspective, the 2017 budget for Defence Headquarters is N4.7 billion. This implies that the amount transferred by Nigerians under the MMM Ponzi scheme would have funded the Nigerian Defence HQ almost six times over.

“Majority of the transfers made by customers of banks that participated in the MMM Ponzi scheme were made through the account-to-account transfer platform.

“This was followed by the mobile channel, and lastly, through the web channels of other transfer platforms in the industry,” the report said.

It added that 34 financial institutions paid out money for investments into the MMM Nigeria Ponzi scheme, adding that the customers included those of commercial banks, mobile payment operators as well as mortgage banks.

“By the side are the amounts, in terms of volume and value for each financial institution that money was paid out from. Fewer banks received inflows of MMM transactions than the number of banks from which outflows occurred,” the NeFF report stressed.

It also stated that MMM followed the usual pattern of Ponzi schemes, pointing out that “they continue to build momentum and crash when the maximum amounts are already invested in the scheme”.

The NeFF report added that the peak of the MMM investment was in November 2016, when over N13 billion was transferred among the participants, pointing out that the CBN had in the middle of 2016 warned about the dangers of the scheme.

In a related development, the volume of fraud reported in 2016 indicated an 82 per cent increase in reported cases, with an estimated N2.19 billion losses.

The NeFF 2016 annual report titled, “A Changing Payments Ecosystem: The Security,” said the financial industry recorded an 82 per cent rise when compared to 2015 and over 1,200 per cent rise when juxtaposed with the situation in 2014.

According to the report, despite the 82 per cent increase in reported fraud cases, the industry was able to reduce fraud by 2.7 per cent when compared to the 2015 figure.

“Comparing the attempted fraud against the actual losses, the industry was able to salvage 49.7 per cent of the total amount attempted by these fraudsters within the year.

“These figures informed us that there are more attempts on a yearly basis with different innovation tricks or modus operandi to take advantage of the system,” the NeFF report said.

The report also noted that 2016 witnessed a significant transaction increase across all payment channels in both volume and value in spite of the economic recession.

“In contrast with 2015, there was a 71.43 per cent spike in the volume of transactions processed through the NCS (Nigeria Central Switch),” it said.

In his address at the unveiling of the NeFF 2016 annual report, CBN’s Director, Banking and Payments System and NeFF Chairman, Mr. Dipo Fatokun, stated that the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) report of the Nigeria fraud landscape for 2016 indicated that fraud cases grew by 82 per cent over the 2015 figures, attributing the trend to the increased usage of new payment platforms.

Meanwhile, the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has called on stakeholders to ensure that the Cybercrime Act is effectively enforced, to serve as a deterrent and constant reminder to those who may wish to engage in illicit activities targeting the financial technology infrastructure.

“It is now about two years into the commencement of the Act, and so it is not too early to conduct a holistic review of its implementation, hence the theme of this workshop: ‘Tackling Enforcement Challenges under the Cybercrime Act’,” Emefiele said.

He noted that as the regulator of the financial sector, the CBN is constantly confronted with issues raised by operators who occupy the unenviable position of first line of defence against cyber attacks on the systems, networks and infrastructure through which financial services are carried out in the country.

“While the issue about cyber security is not wholly legal in nature, and while considerable efforts have been made by the CBN and banking operators, especially through the Bankers’ Committee and other bodies, leading to reduced incidents of fraud on the one hand, and very high consumer confidence in our payment system on the other, we are nevertheless desirous that the Cybercrime Act is effectively enforced, to serve as a deterrent and constant reminder to those who may wish to engage in illicit activities targeting our financial technology infrastructures,” he said.

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 long experience in the global financial market.

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Investment

Barclays Tell High Net Worth Investors to Shun Africa and Other Emerging Economies

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Barclays to High Net Worth Clients, Stay Off Africa and Other Emerging Economies

Barclays, one of the world’s largest investment banks, has started advising high net worth clients to stay off Africa and other emerging economies.

According to Barclays, despite the recent recovery noticed in emerging-market stocks, investors are better off avoiding the risks that still abound in emerging nations. Barclays Plc, however, advised high net worth clients to focus on U.S equities despite the S&P’s breakneck rally.

The investment bank said emerging economies do not have enough fiscal buffers to spend their way out of the COVID-19 pandemic and will likely continue to struggle in the near-time compared to the US with 12 percent of gross domestic product fiscal-support.

It said the huge US stimulus may halt rebound in emerging-markets stocks as more money is expected to flow into the world’s largest economy and its European counterparts.

“Compared to the U.S., emerging-market economies appear more vulnerable,” said Haider, the London-based managing director and head of global growth markets. “Their central banks have less room to maneuver, their governments may not be able to provide unlimited support and equity markets, given their sector mix, can be more challenged by an economic slowdown.”

Barclays added that even after 33 percent rebound in stocks of emerging markets since the panic selloff subsided in March, stocks are still down by 9 percent from year-to-date while the US S&P 500 stocks are up by 45 percent. Presently, their stocks trading at a 36 percent discount to US stocks, up from 25 percent three months ago.

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Economy

Crude Oil Rises to $43.1 Per Barrel on Production Cuts Extension

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  • Crude Oil Hits $43.1 Per Barrel Following OPEC’s Production Cuts Extension

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil price is measured, rose by 1.25 percent on Monday during the Asian trading session following OPEC and allies’ agreement to extend crude oil cuts to the end of July.

OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to extend production cuts of 9.7 million barrels per day reached in April to July on Saturday.

In the virtual conference, delegates agreed that members, including Nigeria and Iraq presently struggling to attain a 100 percent compliance level must keep to the agreement or be forced to do so in subsequent months.

Nigeria, Iraq and others failed to keep to the cartel’s agreement in May after reports show that Nigeria only managed to attain a 19 percent compliance level during the month while Iraq struggled to attain just 38 percent in the same month.

Russia and Saudi Arabia, the two largest producers of the group, warned members to stick to the agreed quota if they want to rebalance the global oil market.

While the errant producers such as Iraq and Nigeria have vowed to reach 100% conformity and compensate for prior underperformance, we still think they will likely continue to have some commitment issues over the course of the summer,” said Helima Croft, head of global commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets.

The potential return of Libyan output could also cause considerable challenges for the OPEC leadership.

Earlier on Monday, Brent crude oil hits $43.1 per barrel, more than a month record-high, before pulling back slightly to $42.83 per barrel.

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Gold Dips by 2 Percent on Better Than Expected Job Report

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  • Gold Dips by 2 Percent on Better Than Expected Job Report

Gold prices declined by 2 percent on Friday following a better than expected US non-farm payroll report.

The report showed an increase of 2.5 million payroll numbers against a decline of 7.5 million predicted by many experts.

The surprise number boosted investors’ confidence in US recovery as many dumped their haven investment (gold) for the stock market.

“We had significantly stronger-than-expected U.S. payroll numbers – an increase of 2.5 million versus an expectation of a decline of 7.5 million – that 10-million swing has brought forward expectations of the economic recovery in the United States,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategies at TD Securities.

Spot gold immediately declined by 1.9 percent per ounce to $1,678.81 while the U.S. gold futures slid 2.6 percent to settle at $1,683.

Gold was also being pressured by stronger yields and a slightly firmer dollar, “meaning the opportunity cost to hold gold in the portfolio has gone up,” Melek added.

The surprise didn’t stop there, US Dow Jones was up 614 points despite the protest going on the US and US-China tension.

Also, NASDAQ rose by 29 points while the S&P index added 50 points increase.

Note: Investors generally increase their investments in gold and other haven assets during a crisis to avert risk exposure and do the opposite once they sense a better economy.

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