…seeks more powers to revoke banks’ licences
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has called for the abolition of shell banks in the country, saying they serve as institutions of money laundering.
Shell banks are institutions that carry out activities where they are not licensed.
CBN governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, made the request yesterday at the public hearing organised by the House Committee on Banking and Currency on a bill to amend the Banking and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) and other bills in Abuja.
He said the shell banks, apart from being used for money laundering, distort the banking system and pose a problem to regulatory agencies.
Emefiele, represented by the Director, Legal Services Department, Mr. Johnson Akinwunmi, said: “We wish to propose the introduction of new subsections 3(6) and (7) for the proscription of shell banks in response to the latest recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering to read:
“Any bank or its subsidiaries without physical presence in the country where it is incorporated and licensed and is not affiliated to any financial services group that is subject to effective consolidated supervision, shall not be allowed to operate in Nigeria and no Nigerian bank orbits subsidiaries shall establish or continue any relationship with such bank or subsidiary.”
Similarly, the CBN is also seeking additional powers to revoke licences of banks and “power to inject funds into a failing bank by way of equity participation up to a level that guarantees control by CBN.”
The additional powers, according to the director, is to enable the CBN acquire equity investment institutions and its ability to ensure a sound financial system.
The proposal read: “Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection 2 of this section, and notwithstanding the provisions of section 34 of the CBN Act or anything written law or any limitations contained in the memorandum and articles of association of any bank, the bank shall have power, at any time, to acquire the shares of any bank up to a level that guarantees its control by the bank and management of the bank.
“Provided that the bank shall dispose of such equity investment in the bank when it is satisfied that the state of affairs of the bank concerned has improved.”
The CBN also backed the House of Representatives in imposing stiffer penalties and terms of imprisonment of certain offences on erring commercial banks and their staff.
But in his presentation, the Director of Legal/Board Secretary, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Mr. Belema Taribo, opposed the proposed fines, saying they were too high.
“The NDIC, as a deposit insurer, supports the passage of the bill into law as the current fine of N1,000 does not meet contemporary realities. However, it is our submission that the proposed penalty of N200,000 is above N100,000 per cent increment from the current penalty. In view of the above, we propose a fine of N5,000.”
On the issuance of licence, NDIC proposed that the CBN should seek its consent before granting any application for banking licence.
“This is to enable the corporation have a prior evaluation of the applicants with regard to insurance of deposits,” Taribo said.
Chairman of the House committee, Hon. Jones Onyereri, said the increase in penalties to the bank operators would streamline the operations of such banks to conform to international best practices.
He informed that the proposed amendments to the BOFIA Act 2017 were initiated by three lawmakers viz: Hon. Daniel Reyeneiju (PDP, Delta), Hon. Betty Apiafi (PDP, Rivers) and Hon. Jones Onyeriri (PDP, Imo).
Some of the penalties in the 70 proposed amendments to the BOFIA Act 2017 include: a fine of N20 million on banks that fail to comply with the conditions of the licence; a fine of N20 million on any director that fails to declare any property he/she owns that runs contrary to the Act; a fine of N10 million against a director or manager that fails to keep a book of account and a fine of N2 million on banks that fail to publish its annual report of its general meeting in two reputable national dailies, among others.
While declaring the public hearing open, Speaker Yakubu Dogara said the House opted for stiffer penalties of millions of naira as fine for commercial banks which engage in illegal deduction of spurious charges on customers’ accounts domiciled in such banks.
Dogara, who was represented by the House Deputy Minority Leader, Hon. Chukwuka Onyema, said that bank customers have not stopped complaining of spurious charges on their accounts.
EFCC grills former Kaduna governor for 4 hours over N700m campaign fund
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) on Friday interrogated Ramalan Yero, former governor of Kaduna state, for four hours at the commission’s office in Kaduna.
Yero was at the EFCC Kaduna office from around 9 am till around 1:30 pm, when he walked out smiling.
The former governor thanked his supporters who were outside the EFCC office, for their solidarity and asked them to go to the mosques for Juma’at prayer.
He, however, declined to make comment to the press.
His spokesman, Yakubu Lere, told NAN that the ex-governor was invited in connection with the N700 million campaign funds released to the state by the People Democratic Party headquarters in 2015.
Lere recalled that the former governor was at the EFCC office in Kano two years ago over the matter and was granted administrative bail.
“At that time, he explained during the interrogation that the N700 million was PDP money sent to him as the then governor of Kaduna state to finance 2015 general election with instructions, which he judiciously followed,” he said.
“What they are holding against him was that he kept the money in the office of the secretary to the state government instead of in a bank.
“Even last week he was here on the same issue, but as you can see, he came out smiling, meaning the commission has found nothing to hold against him for now.”
The spokesman urged Yero supporters to remain calm and be law abiding, adding that the struggle to “rescue the state from collapse” has started.
Speaker seizes mace to avoid impeachment
The Speaker of Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC), Legislative Council, Mr Daniel Michael, on Friday, seized the mace, the symbol of authority, to prevent his impeachment.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that his action followed the move by his colleagues to impeach him over allegation of misconduct and abuse of privilege.
Mr Yusuf Kadir, the majority leader of the house, while moving a motion to pass a vote of no confidence on the speaker for alleged gross misconduct, called for his impeachment.
Mr Haruna Saidu, the deputy speaker, who presided over the house, directed the clerk to serve the speaker with the no confidence vote notice moved against him.
Saidu explained that the speaker had been given notice and the ultimatum to respond to the petition on or before May 30, but had to step down as the speaker in the meantime.
He further said that the impeachment would depend on his response to the notice served him.
Mr Aminu Barde, representing Kabusa ward, called on the house to strike out article B in the motion, which according to him, was strictly a party affair and should not be brought to the house.
Mr Isah Baushe, the Councillor representing Gwarinpa ward, said that the speaker should be given time to respond to the petition in writing before his the formal impeachment.
Baushe added that the petitioners should also provide evidence to back up their claims.
The petition reads: “abuse of office by taking unilateral decision without consulting this honorable chamber, which is tantamount to act of impunity and gross abuse of privilege.
“There was also an abuse of privilege by misinforming and misleading the honourable members to subconsciously disobey the party decision on state exco affirmation.
“This singular action has brought this honourable house to disrepute and ridicule.
“There was subversion of the legislative authority by unilaterally withdrawing an official communication from this chamber to the executive arm of the council without our collective consent.
“Desecrating the symbol of authority by removing and ordering mace to be deposited in an unconstitutional and unauthorised location,” it stated.
In his reaction, the speaker told NAN that he had not done anything wrong and would answer any question brought to him.
“I know myself, I have not done anything wrong, I’ll answer them,” he said.
NAN also reports that the glass door to the chamber was completely broken during the fracas that ensued at the chamber, following the event.
The lawmakers resorted to the use of the old broken mace to conduct the business of the day.
Some of the lawmakers, however, expressed happiness to the happening at the chamber, saying the crisis would allow members to sit up for serious legislative business.
Navy seizes N66m illegally refined diesel, arrests 23 suspects
Nigerian Navy (NN) on Friday says it impounded a vessel, barge and wooden boat illegally conveying about 300,000 litres of suspected stolen diesel worth N66 million.
Capt. Victor Choji, the Executive Officer of the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder, Port Harcourt, presented 11 suspected crewmen to newsmen in Onne, Rivers.
He said that the vessel, MV Nazarene, barge and wooden boat were intercepted in the late hours of April 20 by troops on routine patrol of waterways.
He added that “the vessel, MV Nazarene, was caught in the act by our patrol elements transhipping suspected illegally refined diesel from a barge, DP 28, and a wooden boat at about 2300 hours.
“MV Nazarene was seized with 300,000 litres of petroleum product suspected to be illegally refined diesel.
“The 11 all-male crew members of the vessel were subsequently arrested and they have been in our custody as preliminary investigation had commenced.”
Choji said that troops also on routine patrol intercepted another suspected illegal vessel, MV Asha, escorted by six undisclosed security personnel.
He said that troops on boarding the vessel found out that the security personnel did not have permission to escort the vessel at the time of seizure.
He, however, declined to reveal the identity of the security agency that provided the illegal escort to the vessel.
He said “MV Asha was seized on March 29 at Onne waterways with 11 crewmen on board. The vessel and crewmen have been in our custody because their motive is still not clear.
“The vessel was arrested with six security personnel that were not under any authority to escort the vessel, thereby, contradicting the Harmonised Standard Operating Procedure (HSOP).
“The HSOP clearly spelt out roles of security agencies in combating illegalities in the oil and gas sector. I advise that security agencies abide by the HSOP.”
The officer added that any individual or group that wished to lift and load petroleum products legitimately at sea must first seek clearance from navy before carrying out such business.
He said the navy was resolute to ensuring that crimes and criminality within the state maritime environment were frustrated to allow legitimate social and commercial activities to thrive.
The naval officer handed over the vessels, barge, wooden boat and 23 suspects to operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for further investigation.
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