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CIBN, Body of Bank CEOs to partner EFCC in combating financial crimes

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The fight against corruption has been described as a patriotic duty that must not be left only to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) but a collective duty of all. This assertion was made by the Executive Chairman of the EFCC  Mr. Ola Olukoyede when he received in audience in his office members of the Body of Banks CEOs and the President/Chairman of Council of The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).

The CIBN and the Body of Banks’ CEOs, according to Dr Opara, “would like to use the occasion to reaffirm its commitment towards combating Financial Crimes in Nigeria in collaboration with the EFCC and to reinforce the banking industry’s commitment to collaborate in the same regard.”

During the meeting, the representative of the Chairman Body of Banks’ CEOs Mr. Lamin Manjang, congratulated Mr. Ola Olukoyede on his appointment as the Executive Chairman, EFCC.

He also commended his leadership for the efforts to re-brand the image of the EFCC, as an institution that embraces professionalism whilst prioritizing humaneness in the conduct of its operations. This demonstrates a firm commitment to mobilise and foster widespread participation in the anti-corruption crusade.

Mr. Manjang commended the Commission for the significant progress made in combating corruption, as evident in its adherence to international conventions and protocols aimed at proactively deterring corrupt practices through effective policies and inclusive stakeholders’ participation.

He noted the Commission’s outstanding achievement in securing a total of 3,785 convictions in 2022, which stands as the highest number attained by any law enforcement agency in the world within a single year. Additionally, he acknowledged the Commission for its continued dedication, as evidenced by the record of 1,688 convictions recorded between January and September 2023. This remarkable accomplishment reflects the Commission’s unwavering commitment to upholding justice and the rule of law in our society.

The President/Chairman of Council of CIBN, Dr. Ken Opara noted that as part of efforts to entrench Ethics and Professionalism in the banking industry, all staff of banks now go through a mandatory Annual Ethics Certification Programme which is conducted by the Institute.

Dr. Opara also hinted at plans by the CIBN to establish a Banking School funded by the human capital development funds instituted by the Body of Banks CEOs to further reinforce the crusade on observance of ethics and professionalism within the banking industry, thereby complementing the EFCC’s objectives.

Dr. Opara further stated that the Institute working with the Body of Banks’ CEOs would like to institutionalise a collaborative capacity building programme for the staff of EFCC to deepen their knowledge and competence in the area of Banking and financial operations. The platform will also allow EFCC to share with bankers insights on how to curb financial crimes.

Opara opined that such symbiotic relationships will help the anti-graft agency in achieving its objectives whilst promoting the growth of the economy.

The collaboration of CIBN and the Body of Banks’ CEOs with EFCC underscores the commitment towards promoting ethics, professionalism, and transparency within the banking sector, Dr. Opara asserted.

In his response, the Executive Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ola Olukoyede expressed appreciation to the CIBN and the Body of Banks’ CEOs for the visit and for the proposal to collaborate with the Commission in combating financial crimes. The EFCC emphasised its renewed policy objectives to enhance engagement with stakeholders and pledged to review its operational guidelines to align with best practices.

The EFCC Chairman also welcomed the proposed collaborative capacity-building initiative between the commission and banks which is aimed at improving skills and competencies of the staff of the Commission as well as bankers.

Furthermore, the EFCC Chairman emphasised the importance of playing by the rules in the best interest of the country, whilst encouraging ongoing engagement with regulatory authorities.

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Nigerian Breweries embarks on strategic recovery plan to boost profitability

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Nigerian Breweries Plc has embarked on a company-wide reorganisation business recovery plan to ensure a sustainable future for its stakeholders.

The company’s Human Resource Director, Grace Omo-Lamai, said this in a statement signed by Mrs Sade Morgan, its Corporate Affairs Director, to the leadership of some food and beverage associations on Friday in Lagos.

The associations include the National Union of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employees and the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association.

Omo-Lamai said the move was essential to improve the company’s operational efficiency and return to profitability, in the face of the challenging business environment.

She said the proposed plan would include operational efficiency measures and a company-wide reorganisation that includes the temporary suspension of operations in two of its nine breweries.

“As a result, and in accordance with labour requirements, the company invited the unions to discussions on the implications of the proposed measures.

“It will be recalled that the company recently notified the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) of its plan to raise capital of up to N600 billion by way of a rights issue.

“This is as a means of restoring the company’s balance sheet to a healthy position following the net finance expenses of N189 billion recorded in 2023 driven mainly by a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion resulting from the devaluation of the naira,” she said.

Also, the Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Hans Essaadi, described the business recovery plan as strategic and vital for business continuity.

Essaadi noted that the tough business landscape characterised by double-digit inflation rates, Naira devaluation, foreign exchange challenges and diminished consumer spending had taken its toll on many businesses.

This, he said, was why the company had taken the decision to further consolidate its business operations for efficient cost management and optimal use of resources for future sustainable growth.

“We recognise and regret the impact that the suspension of brewery operations in the two affected locations may have on our employees.

“We are committed to limiting the impact on our people as much as possible by exhausting all options available including the relocation and redistribution of employees to our other seven breweries; and providing strong support and severance packages to all those that become unavoidably affected.

“We are also committed to supporting our host communities in ways that ensure they continue to feel our presence.

“We remain wholly committed to having a positive impact on our host communities and our consumers; leveraging our strong supply chain footprint; excellent execution of our route to market strategy; and our rich portfolio of brands,” he said.

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FG to provide solar subsidy in Nigeria through $750m World Bank loan

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The federal government plans to provide subsidy to developers and operators of solar mini-grids in unserved and underserved areas in the country.

The subsidy will be provided through a World Bank approved loan of $750 million under the Distributed Access through Renewable Energy Scale-up (DARES) project.

This was disclosed in the financing agreement for the loan project.

The financing agreement for the loan was signed by the Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, on March 31, 2024, and World Bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, on February 19, 2024.

The loan project is fundamentally aimed at augmenting the supply of electricity to both households and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) through a surge in private sector-led distributed renewable energy initiatives.

The document noted that the loan will be partly used to provide “Support to the development and operation of privately owned and operated solar hybrid mini grids in unserved and underserved areas through: 1.1. Minimum Subsidy Tender Carrying out of Minimum Subsidy Tender processes and provision of Minimum Capital Cost Subsidies to selected developers/operators of: (a) Isolated mini grids; (b) Interconnected mini grids; or (c) Solar rooftop solutions in Participating States.”

Asides from providing subsidy, the federal government plans to also provide performance-based grants.

The document noted that there will be “Provision of Performance-Based Grants to eligible mini grid operators based on new customer connections for isolated mini grids and percentage of capital expenditures for interconnected mini grid projects.”

The grant will also cover Standalone Solar (SAS) Systems for Households, MSMEs, and Agribusinesses. This grant will provide “Support to the expansion of SAS systems for households, MSMEs, and agribusinesses in rural areas through: 2.1. Performance Based Grants for Standalone Solar Provision of Performance Based Grants (‘PBGs’) to eligible companies to rapidly deploy SAS solutions in rural and underserved areas, through supply and demand side support and based on independently verified outputs, and to support deployment of solar productive use of electricity (PUE) equipment to MSMEs, agribusinesses and commercial customers.”

There will also be “Catalytic Grants Provision of Catalytic Grants, on a matching basis, to eligible SAS companies that target the poor, remote, or hardest to reach consumers in the country.”

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IMF charges banks to guide against cyber attacks

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…As hackers make off with $12bn

Following reports that cyber thieves stole $12bn from global financial institutions in the last 20 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called on Central Banks across the globe and financial institutions to strengthen resilience in the financial sector by developing an adequate national cybersecurity strategy accompanied by effective regulation and supervisory capacity.

This was contained in the April 2024 Rising Cyber Threats Pose Serious Concerns for Financial Stability report released by The Bretton Wood institution.

The report noted that greater digitalization and heightened geopolitical tensions imply that the risk of a cyberattack with systemic consequences has risen

The fund expressed concern that the rising incidents of cyberattacks on financial institutions globally could affect confidence in the financial system and destabilise economies while expressing worries that cyberattacks have more than doubled since the pandemic.

“Financial firms have reported significant direct losses, totaling almost $12 billion since 2004 and $2.5 billion since 2020,” the IMF stated.

According to the body, financial firms, given the large amounts of sensitive data and transactions they handle, are often targeted by criminals seeking to steal money or disrupt economic activity.

“Attacks on financial firms account for nearly one-fifth of the total, of which banks are the most exposed. Incidents in the financial sector could threaten financial and economic stability if they erode confidence in the financial system, disrupt critical services, or cause spillovers to other institutions.

“Cyber incidents that disrupt critical services like payment networks could also severely affect economic activity. For example, a December attack at the Central Bank of Lesotho disrupted the national payment system, preventing transactions by domestic banks,” IMF stated.

As part of measures proposed to guide against the attacks, the fund called for the periodic assessment of the cybersecurity landscape and identifying potential systemic risks from interconnectedness and concentrations, including from third-party service providers.

It further called for the encouragement of cyber “maturity” among financial sector firms, including board-level access to cybersecurity expertise, as supported by the chapter’s analysis which suggests that better cyber-related governance may reduce cyber risk.

Improving cyber hygiene of firms—that is, their online security and system health (such as antimalware and multifactor authentication)—and training and awareness.

Prioritising data reporting and collection of cyber incidents, and sharing information among financial sector participants to enhance their collective preparedness.

Noting that attacks often emanate from outside a financial firm’s home country and proceeds can be routed across borders, the IMF said international cooperation has also become imperative to address cyber risk successfully.

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