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Customer battles Ecobank over N2 billion loss

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A Federal high court sitting in Lagos south west Nigeria has adjourned till 10th of December, 2018 for report of settlement or trial if amicable settlement fails, the suit instituted by a

Lagos business man Rev. Chukwuemeka Ngubo and his company Elim Motors Nigeria Limited against Ecobank Nigeria limited for allegedly buying United States Dollar on their behalf at the rate of N475 to one United States Dollar whilst the Central Bank approved rate was at N300 to one United States Dollar as at the time of purchase.

By wrongfully sourcing foreign exchange from the parallel market,the Plaintiffs alleged that Ecobank exposed them to the sum of over N2Billion loss.

By the provision of the Foreign Exchange (monitoring and miscellaneous Provisions )Act, Cap F34,laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004,Ecobank ought not to have sourced foreign exchange from the parallel market

The plaintiffs further averred that, the action of the bank is in flagrant breach of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s extant rules regulating the conduct of foreign exchange transactions in Nigeria which has adversely affected the credit rating and financial credibility of the company to the benefit of the bank.

According to statement of claim filed before the court ,The Plaintiffs aver that pursuant to the banker-customer relationship between Ecobank Nigeria limited and Elim Motor limited,the bank had, in the past granted Elim Motor limited several credit facilities which the company always repaid as at when due.

The company averred that,it applied for and the bank issued a bank guarantee in the sum of $12million in favour of Credit Trading Company ,through Deutche Bank AG London in the sum of $8,750,000, By the foregoing the plaintiffs aver that, a balance of $3,250,000 was left unutilised.

The loan was secured with the following.
1.lien on cash Collateral of N200 million being held at the bank’s Treasury Department.
2.legal mortgage on blocks of lecture Halls Complex student centre Okota, Isolo Lagos State valued at N383Million.
3.Legal Mortgage on Block of Lecture hall complex at Elim Mordern Student Centre Okota.
4.Stock Hypothecation of one Billion Naira.
5.Persobal guarantee of the Managing Director with a notarised statement of net worth
6.Promisory note of Elim Motors Limited for the payment of all present and future principal and outstanding balances in the account.

Upon the expiration of the tenor of the bank guarantee ,and in honouring the bank guarantee, Ecobank Nigeria limited unilaterally and wrongly sourced the sum of $8,750,000 it paid to Cedric Trading Company LLC from parallel market rather than from Central Bank of Nigeria by purchasing the foreign exchange at the rate of N475 to one US Dollar, whilst the Central Bank of Nigeria’s approved rate was at N300 to one US Dollar as at that time.

By wrongly sourcing foreign exchange from the parallel market, the bank exposed the Plaintiff Company to the sum over N2billion as loss.
By the provision of the foreign Exchange (motoring and Miscellaneous provision) Act, Cap F34,Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004,Ecobank ought not to have sourced foreign exchange from the parallel market.

Due to the wrongful actions of the bank,the bank is still demanding for the sum of N4,410,017,358.51 from the plaintiffs as their outstanding indebtedness.
However, the Plaintiffs averred that they are not in any way indebted to Ecobank,consequently urged the court to declare that the unilateral purchase of foreign exchange by Ecobank at the parallel market rate rather than at the Central Bank of Nigeria ‘s inter-bank rate is in breach of the Ecobank’s fiduciariary duties owed the Plaintiffs by Ecobank Nigeria limited.
An order directing Central bank of Nigeria to conduct a detail enquiry into the purchase of foreign exchange by the bank at the parallel market, and if the bank is found to have breached ethical standards in the banking industry, penalized the bank in line with its extant Guidelines and Monetary Policies.

The bank in its statement of defence denied almost all the claims of the plaintiffs instead the bank is contending that the plaintiffs are owing the bank the sum of N4,693,438,781.10 as at 28th of February, 2016.

The bank therefore urged the court to dismiss the claim of the plaintiffs as being frivolous and baseless.

Source: TheNews

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BUSINESS

Keystone Bank’s Obeahon Ohiwerei – The turnaround strategist

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Keystone Bank Limited GMD/CEO, Dr. Obeahon Ohiwerei

By: Ezra Adeniyi

The story of corporate revolutions in Nigeria will not be complete without direct reference to Keystone Bank Limited and its Group Managing Director/CEO, Dr. Obeahon Ohiwerei. This is a man who has used his Midas touch to turn things around for the financial institution within a significantly short space of time.

Dr. Ohiwerei is a rare breed. We are familiar with individuals who take over bourgeoning establishments and further increase their worth on face value along the line. But it sounds like a fairy tale to have a professional who takes over a near-comatose organization and almost makes a corporate giant out of it. This has been the lot of Keystone Bank.

In just a little over one year after the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON’s divestment which saw the emergence of Dr. Ohiwerei as its Managing Director cum Chief Executive Officer, Keystone Bank’s narrative changed to a financial institution to reckon with.

On March 24, 2017, Sigma Golf-Riverbank Consortium took over Keystone Bank in its distressed state, which led to the appointment of Dr. Ohiwerei. On assumption of office in August 2017, Ohiwerei drew up a holistic and integrated approach to business modernization which elevated the bank to deliver a superior customer-centric experience.  The impact of this change reflected positive results in its 2018 report card, which restored customers’ trust  and confidence in the system.

Dr. Ohiwerei’s magic wand at Keystone Bank has taken industry watchers by surprise, and the industry itself by storm. Since becoming the Managing Director of the lender, the game-changer has spearheaded several growth initiatives which have placed the bank on upward trajectory.

The Bank has invested significantly in technology with copiously integrated service models enabling customers enjoy banking services through a wide range of channels.

From evolving technologies to changing customer expectations to new regulatory demands – it has never been more important for banks to come up with the right strategies for digital transformation and innovation; the bolstered Ohiwerei led team nonetheless made this a reality at Keystone Bank. This entailed initiating partnership processes with foremost technology-enabled concerns to drive its digital revolution.

Keystone Bank’s ‘Cheque Deposit’ feature in its state of the art mobile banking application, ‘Keystone Mobile App’, further describes Ohiwerei’s vision to position Keystone Bank as a technology and service-driven commercial bank offering convenient and reliable solutions to its customers. The feature which is again the first in the  Nigerian banking sector, enables customers to deposit cheques into accounts from anywhere and at any time on their mobile phones.

Undoubtedly, Ohiwerei’s achievements at Keystone Bank have not gone unnoticed. Accolades have streamed in from all spheres in praise of a man who has done what many people only dream of.

He clinched the Best Banking CEO Award 2018 at the prestigious European Global Banking & Finance Awards in London in July 2018 for his exceptional achievements over the last year. This is an inspiration for business and government leaders working to raise Africa’s investment profile. The judging panel of the award considered excellent leadership skills, enhanced organizational image and innovation. Keystone Bank also emerged ‘Africa’s Most Innovative Bank of the Year, 2018’ at the awards event.

The bank also shone brightly at the International Banker Awards, 2018 as it emerged winner in two categories beating other nominees and carting away the prize for “Africa’s Best Customer Service Provider” and “Nigeria’s Most Innovative Retail Bank of the year, 2018”. The International Banker Awards is an annual event organized by the renowned International Banker financial magazine, one of the world’s leading sources of authoritative analysis on finance, international banking, and world affairs.

Obeahon Ohiwerei began his professional banking career with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc in 1991, and his exceptional performance saw him rise to the position of manager within six years. He later joined Standard Trust Bank (now UBA Plc) where he was appointed the Pioneer Group Head, Consumer Banking in 1998. He resigned in 2002 as General Manager in charge of Lagos and West to join Pacific Bank Limited (then on Central Bank of Nigeria’s holding action) as Managing Director. He repositioned the bank with his new team within 15 months and moved on to take up a new appointment as the pioneer Managing Director of Standard Trust Bank Ghana (now UBA Ghana).

He was  Group Executive Director with Access Bank Plc for seven years, and a director in three of Access Bank’s offshore subsidiaries as well as FITC, Lagos.

Not resting on his oars, the seasoned banker in a recent interview said he would love to leave with a sense of satisfaction that he delivered on the mandate of the investors by making Keystone a Tier-1 bank.

Dr Ohiwerei who describes himself as being audacious to a fault says  I challenge my colleagues to pursue audacious goals believing they can achieve them. There is no limit to what you can achieve as long as you believe in yourself and drive your vision strategically. Personally, I set goals for myself every five years and often achieve them within three years.

“While I do not micro-manage people, I am by nature excited by the challenge of execution and that makes it easy for me to engage hands-on with them in working through any challenges that may arise along the way,”

“I want to leave behind a tested and proven team of passionate and highly motivated people that refuse to see any barriers to what they can achieve; people that are able to compete shoulder-to-shoulder/head to head with any leading bank in the industry.

“At the end of my tenure, the recurrent customer feedback should be ‘my bankers are highly professional solution providers, responsive and always within reach.’” He concluded.

As Dale Carnegie puts it, “You never achieve success unless you like what you are doing,” Dr. Ohiwerei’s bold innovations at Keystone Bank are borne out of his passion to succeed in his every endeavor.

 

– Adeniyi, a financial analyst, wrote from Lagos, Nigeria.

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BUSINESS

Again, Ecobank Manager steals customers N411m

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Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, on Tuesday ordered the remand of Ifeanyi Chukwu Azike, a manager with the Ecobank Plc, for allegedly defrauded the bank’s customers to the tune of N411 million.

The defendant was arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji, by the men of Zone 2, of Nigeria Police Command, Onikan, Lagos, on a three count-charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretence, false representation and fraud.

The police in the charge marked FHC/L/56c/2019, alleged that the  Ecobank manager between in 2016 and 2017, fraudulently obtained the sum of about N150 million from one Mr. Okafor Ikenna Kelvin a customer with Account number 0533010936, under the false pretence of buying him Federal Government Treasury Bill in his Bank.

He was also alleged to forged the bank customer’s Signature, Picture, Letter of Instruction to which he used in opening another parallel account as Ikenna Okafor Kelvin with account number: 5333063028.

The police also alleged that the bank manager without the consent of the bank, fraudulently converted the sum of N411 million belonging to the bank to his personal use.

The offences according to the prosecutor, Mr. Daniel Apochi, are contrary to Section 1 (1) (a), 15(1)(2) and 15(2)of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud related Offence Act No. 14 of 2006, and punishable under Section 1 (3) of the same Act.

The offence is also contrary to and punishable under section 1(2)(2) of the miscellaneous Act. Cap. M17, laws of the federation of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

The defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Following his plea of not guilty, the prosecutor urges the court to remand him prison custody pending trial.

Justice Faji ordered that the defendant be remanded in prison custody, while adjourned till March 8, for trial.

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FirstBank partners Azuri Technologies to expand access to solar power

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First Bank of Nigeria Limited, last Thursday signed a partnership with the Azuri Technologies to provide solar energy solution for the low-income areas.

The Deputy Managing Director of the Bank, Mr. Gbenga Shobo, said in Lagos that the partnership was aimed at proffering solutions to one of the major challenges facing the country today.

Shobo, represented by Tunde Owolabi, the Bank’s Group Executive, Retail Banking Group, Lagos & West, said that the focus is delivering power to millions of Nigerians; while at the same time enabling access to financial services in rural and low-income areas.

According to him, financial inclusion is a priority to FirstBank. “This is why we are excited about this partnership; because our customers will be able to access a wide range of services that address the real problem of access to power.

”This partnership with Azuri Technologies is one out of several of FirstBank’s partnerships. We have a track record of partnering with individuals and institutions to help meet the needs of our customers (children, women, youth, SMEs) and promote sustainable development in our host communities. Our partnerships cut across the Arts, Sports, Education, Health, among others; FirstBank has been at the forefront in ensuring ease of banking and convenience for its customers.

”Our Agent Banking Network (Firstmonie Agent) and digital banking offerings like Chat Banking on Whatsapp, FirstMobile app, Firstonline, and USSD banking, are some of the channels we have put in place to make this happen. We are therefore, very excited about the FirstBank-Azuri partnership and the positive boost it aims to bring to the nation’s economy through inclusive services.”

”Indeed, this is part of FirstBank’s 125 year-long passion for partnerships that are woven into the fabric of society,” he said.

Also, Mr Simon Bransfield-Garth, the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Azuri Technologies, said that the company “is a leader in pay-as-you-go solar technology”.

Bransfield-Garth said: “Azuri brings affordable, modern consumer goods and services to the millions in sub-Saharan Africa without access to conventional power.

”Of the one billion people who lack access to electricity around the world, over 600 million live in sub-Saharan Africa. Pay-as-you-go solar power is connecting off-grid households to the modern digital world. From home lighting to satellite TV, Azuri-designed solutions deliver world class performance at an affordable price for customers who live away from mains power.”

”Azuri’s vision is to create a level playing field where all consumers can access and benefit from the digital economy, wherever they live” he concluded.

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