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Access Bank expands footprint, commences operations in Cameroon

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Nigerian banking group Access Bank just created a subsidiary in Cameroon. With an initial capital of about XAF14.5 billion, the new subsidiary’s headquarters will be in Douala, Cameroon’s economic capital.  

The administrative board of this subsidiary is constituted of seven members with only one Cameroonian, the legal notice published for the creation indicates. These members are Patience Melone, Iyabode Soji-Okusanya, Fatai Oladipo, Abraham Aziegbe, Ibukunoluwa Odegbaike, and Elliz Nzo Azu.

Created for a duration of 99 years, the bank has chosen Price Water House Coopers as its external auditor and will operate in the management of current accounts, savings collection, checks payment and credit granting.

As required by the rules in force, the launch of Access Bank Cameroon’s activities in Cameroon is still subject to the issuance, by the Ministry of Finance and the banking commission COBAC, of various legal notices and authorizations to the bank’s shareholders.

If it succeeds in launching its subsidiary in Cameroon, Access Bank Plc will become the 16th commercial bank to operate in the country and will meet one of its compatriots, United Bank of Africa (UBA), on that market. Its entering the Cameroonian market some years after the departure of another Nigerian group, Oceanic Bank International namely.

Some years ago, Oceanic Bank International took over 54.5% of Union Bank of Cameroon’s (UBC) assets saving it from bankruptcy. However, in 2011, Ecobank had to buy Oceanic Bank International’s assets in UBC, which is a well-rooted bank in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon.

In January 15, 2019, Access Bank Plc’s executive director, Victor Etokwu announced that apart from the Cameroonian subsidiary, the banking group would create subsidiaries in two other African countries this year. The banking group will then have 18 subsidiaries in Africa.

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BUSINESS

Nigerian business owners lament as 7.5% VAT rate takes off

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The implementation of the newly introduced 7.5 per cent  hike in Value Added Tax (VAT) and related tax adjustments in the 2010 Finance Act has commenced, says  Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Ahmed Idris said on Wednesday, though business owners have continued to lament the increment.

The implementation is sequel to Monday’s signing of the Finance Bill by  President Muhammadu Buhari .

The AGF told reporters in Abuja on Wednesday that since the bill had become a law, its implementation by his office had to start.

Idris said he saw a  payment on Wednesday in which five per cent  VAT  was applied, but had to return it  to the person.

His words,  ”on Wednesday, I saw a payment which was done in December last year and when I checked the payment, the VAT on it was five per cent and I said no it must be 7.5 per cent because the five per cent VAT has been overtaken by events because that is the law as at today.

“So, I stopped it and asked them to go and recharge at 7.5 per cent. You cannot implement something unless you have the instrument whether administrative or legal for it to be implemented.”

The AGF also gave reasons for the delay in the full take off of the Open Government Treasury Transparency Portal across Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).

Idris however explained that information was  being uploaded daily on the portal even after  his office closed all government accounts last month.

Other reasons for the delay, he explained, are the training of MDAs account officers to understand how to upload information on the portal; public sensitisation and processing of data from MDAs.

The Federal Government last year December launched financial transparency policy and open treasury portal. The portal is designed to open government financial activities to public scrutiny in terms of revenue and expenditure of MDAs.

With the portal, the AGF is mandated to publish daily, treasury statements which will provide information about what came into the national purse and what went out every single day.

Giving updates on compliance with the new finance rule for MDAs operations, Ahmed said:  ”We are now training personnel that will upload information into the portal because it’s very important to train them.

“We have to suspend that to focus on closure of account as required by law in December. Our staff are back and we will concentrate on the financial portal.”

“All policies of government bordering on transparency, openness in  government finances – Treasury Single Account (TSA), IPPIS, GIFMIS and the recently unveiled  financial transparency policy and  treasury portal emanated  from here, OAGF.”

He explained that, those policies were necessary for government to secure confidence of the public.

The minister said: “You can’t be open if you are not transparent both in expenditure and revenue and  make them open and accessible to the public. The public has responsibility to be informed especially where public funds are involved.

“Fighting corruption isn’t just for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  to arrest people and take them  to court.  We have to start the preparation by preventing  corruption from  happening  by making jailing the last option.”

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BUSINESS

GAIM 4 draws: 13 new millionaires emerge in Fidelity Bank’s savings promo, begin 2020 on a happy note

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L-R: Head, Savings, Fidelity Bank Plc, Janet Nnabuko; Divisional Head, Brand & Communications, Fidelity Bank Plc, Charles Aigbe; Executive Director, Shared Services & Products, Fidelity Bank Plc, Chijioke Ugochukwu; Regional Bank Head (RBH), Lagos Island, Fidelity Bank Plc, Obiajulu Okafor; Head, Lagos Office, Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Sussie Onwuka; during the third monthly draw of the Get Alert in Millions (GAIM) promo season 4 in Lagos on Tuesday.

Thirteen lucky customers of Fidelity Bank Plc have started the new year on a strong note having emerged millionaires in the third monthly draw of the Get Alert in Millions (GAIM) promo season 4 in Lagos on Tuesday. The bank also rewarded loyal customers with cash prizes worth N16 million in the categories of N2 million and N1 million respectively.

The electronic raffle draw, which was held at the bank’s Broad Street Branch, Lagos Island was witnessed by the relevant regulatory bodies including the National Lottery Regulatory Commission (NLRC), Lagos State Lotteries Board (LSLB) and Consumer Protection Council (CPC). Lucky customers who emerged winners in the draw cut across all regions of the country.

The winners include: Dare Abiodun Emmanuel; Ugwu Philomena Nneka; Chinenye Catherine Olunna; Egberi Agbarha Kelvin; Ivang Stanley Oham; Chinelo Loveth Egbuchunem; Dare Abiodun Emmanuel; Itabiyi Gbolahan Olakunle Hassan & Adejoke Jokotade; Larei Chindo; Chigozie Darlington Emoka; Khadijah Umar; Muazzam Ad Maizare; Isabella Chekwube Uche; Omolade Bamitale Olatawura.

Others are Joseph James Abah; Oghenetega Emmanuel Erus; Blessing Chidinma Okafor; Loveline Uche Okonkwo; Nafisat Ali Lawal; Comfort Ita Asuquo; Mohammed Halima Sadiya, amongst others. The bank doled out 19 consolation prizes in form of fridges, television sets and power generating sets.

Speaking during the event, Managing Director/CEO, Nnamdi Okonkwo, noted it is the bank’s 9th promo in 12 years whilst adding that a total of N16 million and 19 consolation prizes will be given out at the third draw. Okonkwo who was represented the Executive Director, Shared Services and Products, Chijioke Ugochukwu, further added that the draw will see a total of N50 million in cash and 54 consolation prizes to over 93 winners.

“We would have given out a total of N50 million in cash and 54 consolation prizes to over 93 winners. We expect more winners to emerge at subsequent draws because the promo is still on and in addition to the N50 million that we will be giving out, we still have N70 million and several consolation prizes yet to be won”, he said.

Shedding light on how people can qualify for the draw, Head, Savings group, Fidelity Bank Plc, Janet Nnabuko, stated that both existing and new customers can win by simply topping their account with N10,000 for existing customers or someone opening a new account and building it up to N20,000.

She further disclosed that to qualify for the star prize of N3 million one needs to build his account to N50,000 while aspiring for the grand prize of N10 million, one only has to grow his account to N200,000.

Fidelity Bank is a full-fledged commercial bank operating in Nigeria with over 5 million customers that are serviced across its 250 business offices and various digital banking channels. The bank focuses on select niche corporate banking sectors as well as Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and its currently driving its retail banking businesses through its robust digital banking channels.

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BUSINESS

Access Bank denies arrest of its GMD

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Access Bank GMD, Wigwe

Access Bank Plc has vehemently denied reports that its group managing director, Mr. Herbert Wigwe has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of fraud.

Some online news sites had reported that the Access Bank boss was arrested for his connection with the assets of former Abia State governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, alleged money laundering for former petroleum minister, Deziani Allison-Madueke, as well as alleged inflation of contracts linked to former Lagos State movernor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

In a notice to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Friday, January 10, 2019 by the company secretary, Sunday Ekwochi, the lender denied the reports, stressing that its officials were only invited for interrogation over credit facilities that were availed Slok Nigeria Limited (owned by Orji Uzor Kalu) by the defunct Diamond Bank plc (which Access Bank had inherited following its merger with Diamond Bank) and which were secured by Slok’s assets charged to Diamond Bank.

In the statement, the bank further explained that the issues had been resolved.

 

Read the full statement below:

Our attention has been drawn to a trending report on social media regarding the alleged arrest of Mr. Herbert Wigwe, the Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc (Access Bank) by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (“the Commission”).

We wish to state that the issue essentially relates to the credit facilities that were availed Slok Nigeria Limited (“Slok”) by the defunct Diamond Bank plc (“Diamond”) and which were secured by Slok’s assets charged to Diamond. Access Bank had inherited the Slok credit following the recent merger of Diamond with Access Bank.

Given the differing interest of the Commission and the Bank on the assets of Slok deriving from the court’s recent judgment on Slok, the Commission had invited for interrogation officials of Access Bank who were handling the Bank’s recovery efforts on Slok credit including its Group Managing Director.

Following fruitful engagement between the Bank and the Commission, we are of the opinion that the issues relating to Slok investigation have been resolved.

As an institution built on best practice, we wish to assure our esteemed stakeholders that the Bank will continue to conduct its business in line with extant laws and relations

 

Sunday Ekwochi

Company secretary

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