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Access Bank denies any wrongdoing in sale of customer’s goods

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Access Bank Plc has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the alleged sale of a customer’s goods worth N2.5billion.

The Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos had charged Access Bank Plc, its managing director and chief executive officer, Herbert Wigwe, and others with 21 counts of conspiracy, fraudulent disposal of trust property, fraudulent conversion, stealing and false representation before an Ogun State High Court.

Access Bank Plc , Mr Wigwe, Alawode Oluseye and Bayo Adesina are accused of conspiring and stealing 23,754.413 metric tonnes of steel billets valued at ?2.5 billion belonging to BMCE Bank International Plc.

But in a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), on Monday, Access Bank however denied the allegations stressing that at no time did the bank or any of its executives or officers commit any of the alleged offences.

The statement reads:

“In 2015, Access Bank availed credit facilities to Metal Africa Steel Products Limited, to finance the importation of billets and machinery for the expansion of its factory. Consequent upon the grant of the facilities, the bank opened Form M and Letters of Credit (“LC”) to facilitate the importation of the billets for which the shipping documents were consigned to the bank. The facilities were secured by a Debenture Trust Deed over the customer’s assets shared with other lenders.

“Upon arrival of the billets, the bank released the shipping documents to the customer to enable it clear the goods. The bank subsequently discovered that the customer had cleared the goods from the port without payment of appropriate customs duty.

“The bank, in line with its duty to protect its depositors’ funds, reported the alleged crime to SFU which obtained a court order to take over the customer’s business operations. Furthermore, the bank petitioned Interpol, which is presently taking steps to repatriate the suspects involved in the alleged fraud from India. Subsequently, the beneficiary banks (including the bank) under the Debenture Trust Deed, appointed a Receiver/Manager who took over the operations of the customer’s business and paid the appropriate customs duty on the billets.

“The Receiver/Manager subsequently obtained court order from the Federal High Court and sold the billets and distributed the proceeds amongst the beneficiary banks (including the bank).”

The lender further said in the statement that it was “aware that the petitioner also laid claims to the same billets following which there were attempts at settlement between the petitioner and the Receiver/Manager. The petitioner subsequently filed a complaint at SFU following the failure of settlement.

“Based on the foregoing, we were surprised to be served with the charges by the SFU alleging, amongst others, that the bank stole the billets and forged the shipping documents covering the billets.

“We hereby state that at no time did the bank or any of its executives or officers commit any of the alleged offences. The bank has continued to maintain the position that it financed the importation of the billets and that the Receiver/Manager appointed by the bank and a syndicate of other lenders had the right to sell the goods. We are aware that there are civil matters in court on the same subject.

“We are also aware that there are on-going settlement negotiations between the Receiver/Manager and the petitioner. Without prejudice to the settlement discussions and the civil matter, we reiterate that the Receiver/Manager appointed by the bank and a syndicate of other lenders acted within its powers to sell the billets.

“We wish to assure our stakeholders that the bank will continue to take all necessary steps to protect its depositor’s funds in line with its fiduciary duties as well as extant rules and regulations.” The statement concluded.

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Zenith Bank Emerges First Nigerian Bank To Repeatedly Audit Its Carbon Emissions

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Zenith Bank Plc was presented with a Certificate for Greenhouse Gas Auditing by V4 Advisors after a successful completion of the Bank’s Greenhouse Gas Audit for the 2018 Financial Year. The presentation of the certificate and the report of the Auditors was done by V4 Advisors at the Zenith Bank Head Office on May 21, 2019.

The Executive Director, Dr. Temitope Fasoranti, who received the certificate on behalf of the Bank said the Bank started this effort with the 2016 Financial Year and has carried out three greenhouse gas audits to date.  He explained that the Bank understands the relationship between greenhouse gas emission and climate change and appreciates the role it is expected to play towards combating the menace of climate change.

Also speaking on the milestone, the Country Manager, Lynsey Elston highlighted that Zenith Bank is the first Nigerian bank to consecutively report the carbon emissions of their Head Office in Lagos using a certified tool which is built on the internationally recognized “GHG Protocol”. 

She commended the bank for proving its commitment to United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) Goal 13, Climate Action, in addition to complying with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards.”  In response to her, the Executive Director said the initiative has significantly helped the bank reduce its overall carbon footprints and drive energy efficiency.

V4 Advisors is a UAE-based provider of advisory and consulting solutions on climate change and greenhouse gas emissions. The firm’s calculation and reporting tool has been reviewed by the World Resources Institute (WRI) for conformance with the GHG Protocol Corporate Standard.

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Access Bank Threatens to Publish Names of Debtors in Newspapers

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The management of Access Bank Plc has given all its delinquent debtors two weeks to pay up their due obligations, emphasising that failure to adhere to this directive would come with severe consequences.

In a publication today on Punch Newspapers, the lender said this warning also goes to debtors of the defunct Diamond Bank Plc.

Business Post reports that in March 2019, Access Bank and Diamond Bank officially merged together to become an enlarged banking entity.

In the notice seen by Business Post, the financial institution warned that if after the two weeks grace period the “incorrigible debtors” fail to comply with this directive, it would be forced to publish their “names in newspapers.”

The bank said “all debtors will be sanctioned by the CBN and banned from participating in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange and Securities Exchange Markets, and registered on the Credit Risk Management Systems (CRMS) Bureau as bad debtors making them, their directors and related entities illegible for any credit in the Nigerian Financial Markets.”

Access Bank said it was determined to take further actions “against such delinquent individuals and companies as we may consider necessary and shall relentlessly pursue full recovery of all our debts.”

Below is the full statement signed by the management of Access Bank Plc.

Please be informed that Access Bank Plc is set to publish the list of all its delinquent debtors, associated persons, directors and entities. This is in line with the directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

All Access Bank Plc (including former Diamond Bank Plc) debtors are directed to pay up their due obligations in order to avoid punitive actions being taken against them. Please note that we shall publish out debtors’ names in newspapers in two weeks.

Similarly, in the event that these obligations are not fulfilled, we shall take such further actions against such delinquent individuals and companies as we may consider necessary and shall relentlessly pursue full recovery of all our debts.

Furthermore, all debtors will be sanctioned by the CBN and banned from participating in the Nigerian Foreign Exchange and Securities Exchange Markets, and registered on the Credit Risk Management Systems (CRMS) Bureau as bad debtors making them, their directors and related entities illegible for any credit in the Nigerian Financial Markets.

For incorrigible debtors, who continue to pose a risk to our system, we will use all means available and collaborate with our colleagues in the industry to ensure that they are excommunicated from the banking system.

Consequently, we hereby advise all out delinquent debtors to take this publication seriously and ensure that all debts are settled promptly.

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Glo Extends Lead In New Data Subscriptions With 1 Million More Users

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Digital transformation leader, Globacom, has maintained its position as the preferred data service provider in the country with an addition of nearly one million new subscribers in March, 2019.

According to the Internet Subscriber Data for March 2019 published on the website of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Globacom gained the most with 950,115 new internet users. The gain took its internet subscription in March to 28,436,386 from 27,486,271 recorded in February, 2019.

The data also showed that MTN and Airtel recorded gains in March. While Airtel added 351,657 new internet users in the month under review, MTN recorded a marginal increase of 13,552 subscribers.

On the other hand, 9mobile continued to record losses in its internet subscriber base as it lost 166,542 users in March.

NCC’s data showed that overall internet users in Nigeria increased to 115,938,225 in March from 114,725,357 recorded in February. This indicates an increase of 1,212,868 new subscribers in one month, with Globacom alone having over 78% of the growth.

The apparent preference for Globacom by new internet subscribers is believed to be the result of the network’s continued improvement in its data services. The company has the widest 4G LTE coverage in the country, and the technology ensures more reliable and faster internet usage experience. Globacom also has the most attractive data plans in the market, with packages that appeal to both high and low data users.

On Monday, 21st May, 2019, the company announced the introduction of Glo Daily Data Splash 300, which offers subscribers the most affordable rate for a daily subscription in the country’s telecoms market. The new plan offers a whopping 1 Gigabyte of data for just N300, as against the closest package of N350 per 1GB offered in the market. It also addresses the concerns of subscribers who desire access to reliable internet service at a very convenient rate.

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