Mary Robinson To Lead Probe Into African Development Bank Chief, Adesina


Ireland’s former president Mary Robinson will lead a panel to investigate the leader of the African Development Bank (AfDB), accused by whistleblowers of corruption, the bank said.

Akinwumi Adesina, 60, a charismatic speaker known for his elegant suits and bow ties, became the first Nigerian to helm the AfDB in 2015 — but a 15-page report earlier this year claimed that under his watch the bank had been tarred by poor governance, impunity, personal enrichment, and favouritism.

He was cleared by the organisation’s ethics committee, but international pressure has mounted with the United States calling in May for an independent investigation.

Robinson will lead the probe, alongside Gambia’s Chief Justice Hassan Jallow and the World Bank’s integrity vice president Leonard McCarthy, the bank’s board of governors said in a release on Wednesday.

The governors of the AfDB, one of the world’s five largest multilateral development lenders, expressed “their complete confidence” in the panel.

Robinson — a barrister by training — led Ireland from 1990 to 1997 before serving as the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights until 2002.

The inquiry is due to deliver its findings in two to four weeks.

The AfDB plays an important if largely behind-the-scenes role in African economies, financing projects in agriculture, health, energy, education, transport, and other development sectors.

Coronavirus Crisis Forces UK Banks To Axe Billions In Payouts

A woman wearing a face mask passes a Public Health England sign, warning passengers arriving on flights into the UK, that a virus, Coronavirus, has been detected in Wuhan in China, at Terminal 4 of London Heathrow Airport in west London on January 28, 2020. DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP


Britain’s banking sector on Wednesday scrapped billions of pounds (dollars) in shareholder dividends and share buybacks after the Bank of England requested the move to boost liquidity and help cope with the coronavirus crisis.

The British central bank said in a statement that its Prudential Regulation Authority division had asked lenders to stop the payments until the end of the year.

It also said it expected them not to pay any cash bonuses to top staff.

In response, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Standard Chartered all stated that they will scrap dividends and not pursue buybacks.

“The PRA welcomes the decisions by the boards of the large UK banks to suspend dividends and buybacks on ordinary shares until the end of 2020, and to cancel payments of any outstanding 2019 dividends in response to a request from us,” the regulator said in a statement.

“The PRA also expects banks not to pay any cash bonuses to senior staff, including all material risk takers, and is confident that bank boards are already considering and will take any appropriate further actions with regard to the accrual, payment and vesting of variable remuneration over coming months.”

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Britain’s top banks have enough capital to weather severe recessions in both Britain and globally, as markets brace for a potentially huge downturn driven by the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the regulator.

“Although the decisions taken today will result in shareholders not receiving dividends, they are a sensible precautionary step given the unique role that banks need to play in supporting the wider economy through a period of economic disruption, alongside the extraordinary measures being taken by the authorities,” it said.

The UK lenders have become the latest corporate giants to scrap dividends as big global businesses scramble to save cash and safeguard against worsening virus turmoil.

The news, combined with the worsening COVID-19 crisis, sent banking shares tumbling on London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index, which sank three percent overall in early morning deals.

“UK banks, as many businesses across the world, are scrapping dividends due to an increased need of cash to survive the coronavirus crisis in the short run,” said Swissquote Bank analyst Ipek Ozkardeskaya.

“Even if we may see a negative knee-jerk reaction from investors, the decision to hold onto the cash is the right one from a medium- and long-term perspective.

“In this respect, we expect to see a certain level of tolerance for ditched dividends,” Ozkardeskaya told AFP.

Nigeria Is Learning From Iran To Diversify Its Economy – Buhari

Muhammadu Buhari, Iran, Economy President Muhammadu Buhari says that the Federal Government is understudying the experiences of countries like Iran who thrived in adversity to diversify the Nigerian economy.

He said on Monday in Abuja that his administration is working assiduously to ameliorate the challenges faced by the economy within a short period.

President Buhari made the statement while he received a special envoy from the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the State House, Mohammad Javad Zarif.

He said that the Iranian economy remains an inspiration for Nigeria in the deployment of technology to harness and export gas, grow food for the populace and promote entrepreneurship in education.

“The progress made by Iran within a short period of 30 years is really commendable. Within the period, you have been able to harness gas flaring, and you are now exporting. You have recorded strides in security, manufacturing, agriculture and technology.

“You have also achieved a lot in nuclear research. I must also congratulate you for successfully negotiating with America and the European countries on the development of your nuclear energy,” he said.Buhari-Iran-Envoy

A Great Economy
The President noted that Nigeria had all the potentials for growing into a great economy through more inclusive planning, consistency in government policies and commitment to the realisation of development targets.

“In Nigeria, we are learning. We are learning the hard way through hardship, and we are learning very quickly on how to explore other sectors of the economy like gas, solid minerals and agriculture for growth.

“We are grateful for your support and cooperation in opening up the Nigerian economy for diversification,” he told the envoy.

In his remark, the Iranian envoy, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that the Iranian government would support the ongoing restructuring of the Nigerian economy.

“We are very keen to see a better and stronger relationship with Nigeria, which is the largest country in Africa and a major global player,” he said.

Zarif said he came into Nigeria with a delegation of more than 70 members of the Iranian business community who had already started discussions in investing in sectors like banking, education, scholarship, agriculture, energy, tourism and technology development.

Italy, Spain Clamour For Speedy Eurozone Banking Union

Spain’s Prime Minister and his Italy’s new Prime Minister Enrico Letta urged the European Union to take fast action to tackle high youth unemployment and to speed up the implementation of the euro zone banking union.

At a joint news conference where both ministers were present, it was agreed that a banking union, a fiscal union and political union need to move faster they hope that in the next European Council in June, a decisive step will be taken in the direction of the objective, particularly the banking union.

Letta described the banking union and youth unemployment as the main issues for Spain and Italy as he reiterated that a more solid banking system that can lend money at low interest rates to businesses, small enterprises and medium enterprises which are the core of the Spanish and Italian economy is needed.

He went saying “It’s not possible that Europe decides on a banking union and then does not implement it.”

Letta also reacted to the European Central Bank head Mario Draghi’s concern that Europe’s high unemployment rate could lead to public protests saying that his words confirmed that action needed to be taken.

“I think Draghi’s words today confirm that Europe needs to act and we cannot miss this opportunity at the European Council in June, we mustn’t postpone it to December, it would be an unforgivable mistake,” he said.

The Spanish premier said the European Investment Bank could also do more to help businesses struggling to obtain credit.

“The European investment bank has the opportunity to help small and medium enterprises and this is also an issue we are fighting for.

Small companies in southern Europe have to pay much higher rates for financing than in other EU countries.

5-storey building gutted by fire in Lagos

Tragedy struck on Saturday as a five storey building in Lagos was razed by fire, destroying property worth millions of naira.

The five-storey building, known as UBA Plaza, on Bread Fruit Street because the building houses a branch of the bank  on its third floor started burning around 5:00pm according to those present at the scene.

Uzuoma Aniekwe; a shop owner in the building, said the fire started shortly before 5:00 p.m., and as he got wind of it he started evacuating his goods from inside his shop on the ground floor and according to Aniekwe the fire started on the fourth floor and flowed rapidly to the fifth floor.

As of 08:20 p.m. in the evening of Saturday, firemen from the Lagos State Fire Service, UBA and Julius Berger Plc., were still battling the fire according to our reporter who was present at the scene of the incident as report had it that the fourth and the fifth floors were mostly affected by the fire.

A senior official with the Lagos State Fire Service in charge of rescue operation, said the arrangements products inside the warehouses was too compact for water to get through which gave rise to the unsuccessful penetration of water into the core part where the fire started from.

The official said the banking hall on the third floor might have remained intact, as well as many offices on the second floor.

In order to secure properties worth millions of naira to be looted by miscreants in the Breadfruit area police and officials of other security agencies quickly swung to action to protect these wares.

Nigeria banks are the healthiest in the world- AMCON CEO

The Chief Executive Officer of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mustapha Chike-Obi on Monday said that the banking crisis in the country is over and that the sector should see a substantial recovery when results come in for the first quarter of this year.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), Mustapha Chike-Obi says that the banking crisis in the country is over.

AMCON was set up in 2010 to clean up the banking system in Nigeria following a $4 billion rescue of nine banks that came close to collapse.

Speaking to the Reuters Africa Investment Summit in Lagos, Mr Chike-Obi said earnings in the banking sector would recover well in the first quarter of 2012, after suffering last year because of write-downs on bad debt.

“The numbers we’re seeing in the first quarter are very robust,” he said, adding that three nationalised banks were all now profitable.

“We should wait to the second quarter of this year before passing judgment — I will not tell you that nothing surprising can come up — but the banking crisis of 2007-2009 is over”.

The banking sector was the second worst performing index on the local exchange in 2011, falling 32 per cent, with only oil and gas doing worse.

Seven out of 15 banks listed on the Nigeria stock exchange have announced 2011 earnings, with most posting higher-than-expected loan losses. FCMB has reported a loss while UBA issued a profit warning.

Diamond Bank also reported a loss last year, but swung back to profit in the first quarter.

“Nigerian banks are now the healthiest banks in the world in terms of asset quality and capital,” Mr Chike-Obi said.

He said AMCON was now the largest institutional holder of Nigerian bank stocks “And we’re happy to hold them. We’re not selling.”

AMCON plans to refinance its N1.7 trillion three-year bond with maturities of somewhere between seven and 10 years when the debt expires next year.

The AMCON boss said they were not yet at the stage of seeking investors for the bond, and that a preliminary roadshow in New York, Boston and London next month was more about explaining what asset company is doing than marketing new debt issues.

He said that within four to six weeks AMCON would appoint advisors for the sale of three banks nationalised after a bail out, though it will six months before recommendations are expected.

He said AMCON’s aim was to gradually reduce its operations and cut staffing in the next five years, as a full banking recovery makes it no longer needed.