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Forex Scarcity: Zenith And Stanbic IBTC Banks In Multi-million-dollar Round-tripping Scandal

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Commercial banks in the country are raking in millions of dollars from a foreign exchange round-tripping, which has been fuelled by the acute shortage of hard currency in the economy, investigation has revealed.

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria has been rationing forex to prospective importers in the past 16 months, after the global fall in the prices of crude oil, the nation’s main forex earner.

 

The situation has exacerbated over time and tens of thousands of applications for forex by intending importers have been kept on hold by the CBN for months.

 

Sources close to the forex racketeering said the dollar shortage had led to a situation where prospective importers apply to the CBN through their banks for forex for months without getting it.

 

The continued acute scarcity, it was learnt, had been capitalised upon by the commercial banks who are now selling several millions of dollars obtained from the CBN on their clients’ names at huge premiums above the N199 to $1 official rate approved by the central bank.

 

According to sources familiar with the situation, thousands of helpless importers who are in desperate need of forex to import products ranging from raw materials to equipment are milked on weekly basis by the greedy banks.

 

Findings by our correspondent showed that the scheme, which has been on for several months as the forex scarcity worsens by the day, has made many top bank executives multi-millionaires overnight.

 

Out of about $10m to $25m (depending on the volume of demand by its customers) sold by the CBN to commercial banks in some weeks, illegal profit to the tune of $5m could be made by each of the banks involved in the forex racketeering.

 

A prospective importer, who was recently approached by a major bank ( Zenith Bank) in the country involved in the forex racketeering, told our correspondent that many importers had no choice but to buy the scarce forex from the banks despite the huge and illegal premiums being made by them.

Peter Amangbo, GMD:CEO Zenith Bank

 

Narrating his ordeal, an importer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear of being victimised by the bank, said, “We need $295,000 to import some equipment. We have been on the so-called CBN queue since October. The bank said no forex. Recently, the bank called us that there was forex but not at the official rate.

 

They wanted to sell to us at N275 to $1. Out of about N81m we are to pay, only about N59m goes to the CBN, which is the official rate. The balance goes to the bank officials who get this allocation from the CBN. This is the type of stupid money they make now, God saves Nigeria.”

 

Explaining further, the visibly angry importer said, “The bank’s officials said they had $5m as of January 29. So calculate how much they made for that week alone.”

 

The forex racketeering victim said the bank officials had told him that the difference between the CBN rate of N199/$1 and the N275 to the dollar rate they were offering him would be paid through a cheque written on a name to be provided by the officials. He added, “The bank will debit my account at the CBN rate and then I will give them a cheque for the balance.”

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CAC Places First Bank Records On Caveat Over Litigation

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The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking…

The Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, has placed the records of First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings on caveat pending the resolution of the crisis rocking the board of the bank as a result of multiple court cases filed by aggrieved directors.

The crisis rocking the bank stemmed from protests by shareholders who were kicking against the bank’s internal governance and shareholding structure, as a result of which some of them have taken their grievances to the court.

One of such is the case of Olusegun Samuel Onagoruwa v. FBN Holdings Plc in Suit No. FHC/L/CP/1271/2022), which is challenging the capacity of the Board of Directors of FBN to appoint new persons to fill vacant slots.

Onagoruwa in his suit is seeking “an order setting aside, nullifying, annulling and/or quashing the appointments and approvals of Mr. Olusola Adeeyo, Mr. Viswanathan Shankar, Mrs. Remilekun Adetola, Mr. Anil Dua and Mrs. Fatima Ibrahim as Non-Executive Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited made on the 20th day of March, 2024, by FBN Holdings PLC during the pendency of this action and in defiance of the subsisting order of this Honourable Court made on the 15th day of July, 2022.”

The motion also seeks an order restraining the above-named non-executive directors from acting or taking any steps as non-executive directors of the bank.

The current court case follows similar four other cases pending at the Federal High Court in Lagos and Abuja challenging the internal governance of FBN Limited, in addition to existing court injunctions restraining the bank from holding the last two Annual General Meetings which the bank went ahead to hold.

In a new twist to the crisis, the Corporate Affairs Commission in a letter entitled.

“Re: notification of pendency of suit no. fhc/l/cp/1575/23 against FBN holdings plc, and subsisting interim orders of the Federal High Court made on the 9th day of August 2023 restraining FBN holdings plc from holding or proceeding with its annual general meeting purportedly held on the 13th day of August 2023”, weighed in on litigations threatening to tear the old generation bank apart.

Signed on behalf of the Registrar General of CAC by Chidimma Maureen Nwite, the Commission in a letter to lawyers to some of the parties in court against FBN Holdings said: “This is to inform you that the record of FBN Holdings PLC RC: 916455 has been placed on caveat pending the determination of Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1575/2023.”

A shareholder, Mr. Olalekan Babalola, said “it is imperative for the authorities to find a solution to this lingering crisis as Nigeria cannot afford another major bank’s collapse at this critical time

He called for urgent resolution of all court cases in the overall interest of depositors, shareholders and other stakeholders of the bank before further damage is done to the oldest Nigerian bank.

 

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Shalina Recognizes Major Distributors as the Main Force behind its Business Growth – Arun Raj, Chief Commercial Officer

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A leading Afro-focus multinational company, Shalina Healthcare, has said it recognizes its major distributors as one of the driving forces behind its success stories in the last one year in the face of the economic realities. This was in Lagos on Thursday at the meeting of the company with its business partners and major distributors across the country to mark the end of the financial year of the company with the main theme: “Driving Growth through Strong Business Partnerships.”

 

In his welcome speech as well as his corporate presentation, Arun Raj, the Chief Commercial Officer, Shalina Healthcare West Africa said through the efforts of the business partners ” Shalina is one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in Africa. Though the last one year had shown to be one of the most difficult for business in recent times, but were able to weather the storm through the support and resilience of our major distributors. The last one year had shown to be a very difficult time, especially for the industry, with a leading brand of about sixty years in Nigeria leaving the country, but we are assuring everyone that, despite all economic issues, Shalina continues to believe in Nigeria. We are committed to providing available and affordable quality health products. It will interest many people that in the last financial year, the company had a 19% volume growth. Though it may be below our expectations, considering the economic realities of the last one year, it is a good development.”

In the same vein, the Managing Director, Shalina Healthcare, Nigeria, Mrs. Opeyemi Akinyele, said “the purpose of the event is to refresh, appraise and evaluate the last financial year for us to forge ahead and make more impacts. The last one year has been the survival of the fittest in the business world , but here we are today with successful stories.”

 

In his own remarks, the Corporate Marketing Head of the company, Folorunso Alaran while

 

Appreciating the business partners who are the major distributors across the country said “the success stories of the company can’t be completed without the distributors.”

 

Meanwhile, in their various responses and feedback, some of the business partners commended the company for the job well-done in the outgone financial year and also made recommendations and suggestions for the company to grow bigger and higher in the upcoming new financial year. In their responses, Alhaji Rasheed Adetoro of The Will of God Multipurpose Ventures, Shaki, Oyo State and Tochukwu Agu of Atidam Pharmaceutical Limited, Lagos among other business partners were unanimous in congratulating the company for a successful financial year saying ” the reward for a good job is more good jobs.”

 

One of the high points of the event was the presentation of the “Distributor Excellence Award” to its outstanding business partners.

 

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UBA Introduces First of its Kind Scan To Resolve Complaint Portal

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Africa’s Global Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has unveiled a Quick Response solution code, qrdispute.ubagroup.com:8088 called the ‘Scan to Resolve Complaint’ Portal with code  aimed at enhancing satisfaction and swiftly addressing customers’ disputes.

The first of its kind innovative platform marks another significant step by the bank to revolutionise customer service and streamline complaint resolution processes.

The ‘Scan to Resolve complaint’ portal is a QR-code-based qrdispute.ubagroup.com:8088,-portal conceptualised by the bank to proffer timely solution to customers’-challenges, without them having to visit the bank or branch.

With the portal, a variety of concerns including challenges around failed transactions will be quickly resolved from the comfort of their homes and business places.

UBA’s Head, Digital Banking, Olukayode Olubiyi, who spoke on the workings and benefits of the ‘Scan and Resolve Complaint’ portal explained that with the platform, difficulties with transactions on web, Point of sale machines (PoS) and Automated Teller Machines will immediately get responses and be treated within 72 hours.

“Our customers are at the heart of our business, that’s why we keep going the extra mile to constantly innovate in a bid to satisfy them. As the name implies, Scan and Resolve Complaint, is a solution driven portal which attends to complaints and issues of customers fast and promptly,” he explained.

He also disclosed that the portal is loaded with many benefits including ease of transactions, adding that “henceforth, customers are only required to scan and log in complaints while each complaint would be integrated into the portal register to make resolution seamless which also reduces customer hassles.”

According to Olubiyi, when these complaints are made, there will be an Instant verification process and notifications will be sent to customers while resolution will commence immediately with the overall aim to satisfy customer.

UBA’s Group Head, Customer Experience, Michelle Nwoga said the bank is always on the look-out to provide exceptional services to customers, and has over time developed various strategies to ensure that its service delivery is continuously upgraded to remain the bank of choice.

“UBA aims to provide the best value possible for its customers through a more interactive, user-friendly interface that will make countless opportunities available for the customers from the comfort of their homes,” she stated.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with 25,000 employees group wide and serving over 35 million customers globally.  Operating in 20 African countries and in the United Kingdom, the United States of America, France and the United Arab Emirates, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge technology

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