Diamond Bank Plc has fired 200 members of its workforce as the economic challenges affecting the country continue to batter the financial services industry.
This is coming two months after the bank announced that its profit before tax for the first quarter of this year fell to N6.04bn from the N7.94bn it recorded in the first quarter of 2015.
The slowdown in the economy has fuelled a high non-performing loan rate in the banking system, causing banks to record sharp decline in their profits for the 2015 financial year and the first quarter of 2016.
Diamond Bank was said to have fired the workers on Friday.
Confirming the development in a statement on Tuesday, the lender said the sacking of the 200 workers was in line with its strategic plan to drive shareholders’ value.
The statement read, “Diamond Bank recently rightsized its workforce. The rightsizing was a core strategic exercise in line with the bank’s growth objective and the will to continue the drive to optimise cost and enhance value for the shareholders at the end of the business year.
“In the bank’s last appraisal, only 200 staff whose performance scorecards were adjudged to be lower than the minimum required to drive its strategic growth plan for the business year were relieved, with the opportunity to seek employment in other organisations where their respective skills set and individual performances could be enhanced and optimised.
“The yearly appraisal is a general industry standard and enables banks to prune their workforce and prudently allocate resources for optimum result. Diamond Bank is not an exception in the industry and therefore, had carried out its annual appraisal and found the performance of members of staff that were relieved to be below the required minimum performance level that would sustain them in the system. With its trim-and-fit workforce, the bank is sure to meet its target for the current business year.”
However, unconfirmed reports had it that the number of workers who were asked to go was in the region of 400.
The reports stated that the lender was aiming to reduce its N800m monthly wage bill significantly and was also considering pruning workers in the managerial cadre by 80 per cent, a claimed that Diamond Bank denied.
FBN Holdings, the parent company of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, had a few weeks ago said it would reduce costs by gradually cutting down on its workers by 1,000.
This came after the group posted over 80 per cent decline in its profit for the 2015 financial year.
Bad loans in the banking industry rose sharply by 78.8 per cent to N649.63bn in 2015, indicating severe deterioration in the quality of the loan portfolio of the 22 banks, a Central Bank of Nigeria staff report presented to the Monetary Policy Committee revealed.
The report also showed a general increase in bad/non-performing loans among the 22 Deposit Money Banks in the country. This was despite the 30 per cent decline in new loans granted by banks in 2015 to N5.78tn.
According to the report, 18 out the 22 banks recorded increase in bad loans. Furthermore, the number of banks that exceeded the regulatory limit of five per cent for the ratio of bad loans to total loans rose from three in 2014 to eight in 2015, with three banks exceeding 10 per cent.
Economic and financial analysts believe more lenders will lay off a significant number of their workers in the coming months as they battle bad loans, regulatory headwinds and slowdown in the economy.
CBN Directs Banks to go After COVID-19 Financial Criminals
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.
Union Bank Secures US$40 Million Facility from IFC Global Trade Finance
Union Bank Secures US$40 Million Facility from IFC Global Trade Finance
Union Bank of Nigeria Plc said it has secured a US$40,000,000 finance guarantee facility from the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
In a note to the Nigerian Stock Exchange, the lender said the facility would help boost access to finance for local businesses and enable increased international trade for Nigeria.
It explained that the facility “will support Union Bank to establish working partnerships with nearly 300 major international banks within the GTFP network, thereby broadening access to finance and reducing cash collateral requirements for Nigerian businesses.
“The facility will enable the continued flow of trade credit into the Nigerian market at a time when imports are critical, and the country’s exports can generate much-needed foreign exchange.”
Under the IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program (GTFP) terms of the agreement, GTFP offers benefiting banks partial or full guarantees covering payment risk on Union Bank’s trade-related transactions.
Accordingly, these guarantees are transaction-specific and may vary depending on underlying instruments like letters of credit, trade-related promissory notes, guarantees, bonds, and advance payment guarantees.”
Emeka Emuwa, Chief Executive Officer of Union Bank, said, “Union Bank is pleased to join the IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program. This is a significant achievement as we continue to expand our trade financing offerings to our
customers. Even in these peculiar times, we remain focused on contributing to economic growth by developing tailored solutions that help our customers harness the teeming opportunities that still exist in the Nigerian market.”
Eme Essien Lore, IFC’s Country Manager for Nigeria, said, “Keeping trade moving is essential to growth and job creation, especially during the challenging economic times we are living through today. We welcome Union Bank to IFC’s Global Trade Finance Program and value a partnership that will make a positive impact on Nigeria’s economy.”
Apapa Customs Command Generate N367.6bn in Nine Months
Customs Command Apapa Realises N367.6bn Between January and September
The Nigeria Customs Service, Apapa Command, said it generated N367.6 billion in the nine-month ended September 2020.
Mohammed Abba-Kura, the Customs Area Controller, disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos.
He said a total of 328 containers of goods worth N19.5 billion were seized during the period. This, he said represents an increase of 37 containers when compared to the same period of 2019.
Speaking further, Abba-Kura said the N367.6 billion realised in the first nine months of the year, represented a 17 percent or N54.1 billion increase from N313.5 billion it collected during the same period of 2019.
The Apapa Command generated N14.3 billion as revenue in the third quarter from customers’ duty and other charges.
He said “The difference recorded was made possible as a result of resilience of officers in ensuring that importers and agents are made to do proper declarations, adhere strictly to import/export guidelines in tandem with extant laws.”
Commenting on the seizures, Abba-Kura said, “These items were seized mainly because of various forms of infractions which range from false declarations, non-adherence to import/export guidelines and failure to comply with other extant regulations as enshrined in the Customs and Excise Management Act.
“In the area of export trade, the period under review recorded exportation of goods worth N26,273,706,822 exported from the country.”
“These exported goods include mineral resources, steel bars, agricultural products among others with a total tonnage of 378,447 million tonnes free on board value of $85.8m. Similarly, the volume of export from January to September 2020 stood at N78.6bn with FOB $257,003,965.”
He added that the compliance level rose to about 60 percent during the period, highlighting the reason for the surge in the number of seizures made.
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