Enugu Internal Revenue Board Seals Off Eight Banks

enugu-boardThe Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue has sealed off eight banks in the metropolis, for failure to remit about 1Billion Naira tax to the government.

The exercise which started on Monday morning at about 5:30am, affected Access Bank PLC, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Skye Bank, Union Bank, Unity Bank, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank and Sterling Bank, in the metropolis.

The Chairman, Enugu State Board of Internal Revenue, Mr Emeka Odo made this known to newsmen in Enugu, that the board obtained an order from the state High Court to seal the affected banks.

Mr Odo, said sealing of the banks which is the first phase of the enforcement exercise on the major companies and institutions will remain under lock and key, to ensure that they perform their civic obligations to the state government.

He however called on customers of the affected banks not to panic as the banks are expected to take necessary actions, to enable the government serve them better.

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Freezes Patience Jonathan’s Accounts In Five Banks

Alleged Money Laundering: Court Freezes Patience Jonathan's Accounts In Five BanksA Federal High Court in Lagos has frozen multiple accounts in five Nigerian banks allegedly belonging to former first lady, Patience Jonathan over allegations of money laundering.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun made the order freezing the accounts after listening to an exparte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), sometime in November.

The order, according to the Commission, covers Mrs. Jonathan’s accounts in Ecobank Plc, Skye Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Diamond Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

The anti-graft agency said that the move to request the freezing of the accounts became necessary after it received intelligence report, which showed that the accounts ought to be investigated.

The ex-parte application to freeze the accounts was supported by an originating summons sworn to by one Abdulahi Tukur, an operative of EFCC, and filed before the court by the EFCC prosecutor, Rotimi Oyedepo.

It requested the court to urgently direct the managers of the bank accounts to, in the interim, forfeit the money in the accounts, to prevent further tampering with same.

After issuing the order, Justice Olatoregun directed the anti-graft agency to enter into an undertaking to pay damages to the former first lady if it turns out that the order should not have been made.

One of the account, domiciled with Skye Bank plc, is said to have a balance of $5,316.66.

Also affected by the order are five companies namely; Finchley Top Homes Limited, Aribawa Aruera, Magel Resort Limited, AM-PM Global Network Limited and Pansy Oil and Gas Limited.

Also affected is one Esther Oba who is said to have a balance of $429,381.87 in her Diamond Bank account while the companies collectively have a balance totaling N7,418,829,290.94 (Seven billion four hundred and eighteen million eight hundred and twenty nine thousand two hundred and ninety naira ninety four kobo).

Subsidy Scam: Court Orders Freezing Of Asset Of Ali’s Son, Others

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja on Thursday granted an order for an interim forfeiture of assets belonging to an oil marketer, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo of Fargo Oil & Gas Ltd, who is standing trial for fraudulently collecting money meant for fuel subsidy.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) obtained the order from the court presided over by Justice Adeniyi Onigbanjo through an ex parte application on Thursday.

Though the anti-graft agency did not specify the worth of all the assets it sought the court to freeze, it alleged that Mr Ogunbambo was being prosecuted for frauds totalling about N4.5 billion.

The affected assets, mostly bank accounts with a United Kingdom and five Nigerian banks, also includes a landed property at 2 Olamijuyin, Avenue Parkview Estate, Ikoyi Lagos.

The UK bank account bearing the name of his England-based company, Seatac Petroleum Ltd, was said to be having £1 million standing to its credit.

Five of the bank accounts bear the names Fargo Petroleum Gas Ltd, Arnage Oil & Gas Ltd and Seatac Petroleum.

Also, the account of one company, Nassaman Oil Service Ltd, belonging to Mamman Ali, son of former Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ahmadu Ali, was among the assets frozen at the instance of alleged fraud linked with Seun Ogunbambo.

The EFCC’s counsel, Francis Usani, moving the application for forfeiture on Thursday said, “the properties and bank accounts set out in the schedule hereto, properties of the persons currently standing trial for conspiracy to obtain money by false pretence, obtaining the sums of over N4.5 billion by false pretence, forgery and uttering of a documents in Charge Nos ID/116C/2012, ID/133C/2012 and ID/122C/2012 all pending in this judicial division (Ikeja), be in the interim forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria pending the determination of all the pending proceedings against him”.

Two of the charges are pending before Justice Onigbanjo, who granted the forfeiture order on Thursday.

In the other charge involving Mr Ogunbambo and his firm, Adeline Investment, pending before another judge, Justice Olabisi Akinlade, the defendant was alleged to have used forged cheques and false claims to defraud Stanbic IBTC Bank of about N430 million in 2010.

According to the other two charges involving him, Habila Theck and Fargo, the accused were said to have defrauded the Federal Government under the fuel subsidy scheme up to the tune of N976.7 million.

In the other case involving Ogunbambo, Mamman Ali, Christian Taylor as well as Nasaman Oil Services, they were accused of defrauding the FG of N4.5 billion under the subsidy scheme.

NSE suspends Stanbic IBTC shares

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has placed the shares of Stanbic IBTC on full suspension.

The foreign owned lender informed the exchange on Wednesday that it has adopted a holding company in compliance with a directive from the Central Bank of Nigeria, which requires banks to divest from non-core banking businesses or adopt a holding structure.

According to a statement from the bank, its shareholders approved the adoption of the new structure at a ‘court-ordered extra-ordinary general meeting of the bank held on August the 9th this year.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Stock Exchange says the process of delisting the bank from the daily official list of the exchange and listing of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc has already commenced, with the process expected to be completed in about two weeks.

Banker arraigned for violating traffic law

Yinka Johnson, a 35 year old banker who was alleged to have killed an official of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), Mr. Hameed Balogun while driving against traffic in Ajah area of the state, was on Tuesday  arraigned before the Igbosere Magistrate Court sitting in Lagos island.

However, Johnson was arraigned on a one-count charge of reckless driving and not manslaughter.

She pleaded not guilty when the charge was read to her.

Police prosecutor, Inspector Agoi Oluwagbemileke, told the court that Mrs. Johnson was arrested on the 10th of Aug at 8.30 am at Mega Chicken area of Ikota in Lekki, Lagos for recklessly driving against traffic.
The defendant (Johnson) was driving a range rover Jeep with registration number CY 276 LSD.

The prosecutor, said that she was caught driving on one way without reasonable consideration for other road users.
Oluwagbemileke argued that the offence is punishable under Section 29 (1) of the Lagos State Road Traffic Laws of 2003.

He added “the accused refused to obey government officials who were trying to stop her from taking the road”.

But, defense counsel, led by Mr. Emeka Okpoko however urged the court to grant her bail arguing that traffic offence was a bail-able offence.

In applying for bail, Okpoko urged the court to grant her bail in liberal terms since the gravity of the offence was not severe.

He added that the defendant being a banker will not abandon her job adding that she is a nursing mother.

He further told the court that the defendant would always be available to attend to court proceedings.

Okpoko said contrary to newspaper publications, the charge before the court showed that the defendant was not the one that killed the LASTMA official.

The trial magistrate, Mr. Jacob Adegun, granted her bail in the sum of N50, 000 with one surety in like sum.

The case has been adjourned till September 5, 2012 for mention.

Johnson, who is an employee of Stanbic IBTC, was arrested by a traffic official for contravening the law.

It was gathered that the LASTMA official collected her car keys and was about to cross-over to the other side of the road when he was crushed by a fast moving car.

Fitch affirms Nigerian banks

Fitch Ratings has upgraded First Bank of Nigeria Plc’s (First Bank) Viability Rating (VR) to ‘b’ from ‘b-‘ and Union Bank of Nigeria Plc’s (Union) VR to ‘ccc’ from ‘c’. At the same time, Fidelity Bank Plc’s (Fidelity) Long-term National Rating was upgraded to ‘BBB+(nga)’ from ‘BBB-(nga)’ and its National Short-term rating to ‘F2(nga)’ from ‘F3(nga)’.

The ratings of all other Fitch-rated Nigerian banks were affirmed. A full list of rating actions is at the end of this announcement.

The VRs of the Fitch-rated banks indicate highly speculative fundamental credit quality, with no VRs above the ‘b’ range. This is due to an extremely challenging operating environment, rapid underlying credit growth, concentrated credit risk and weak – albeit improving – corporate governance and transparency requirements.

In this context, the upgrade of First Bank’s VR follows the sale of significant loans to the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) which has resulted in material improvement in the bank’s asset quality and reduced the concentrated problem loans that were constraining the VR at ‘b-‘. The VR also reflects First Bank’s dominant domestic franchise and acceptable levels of Fitch Core Capital.

The upgrade of Union’s VR acknowledges the restoration of the bank to solvency through the injection of capital from AMCON and a private equity consortium.

Fidelity’s National Ratings were upgraded due to the perceived level of support that Fidelity could expect from the authorities if required. Strong support was demonstrated across the sector during Nigeria’s banking crisis which Fitch expects would be repeated.

The IDRs and National Ratings of Access Bank Plc (Access), Diamond Bank Plc
(Diamond), Fidelity, First Bank, United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Union are derived from Fitch’s perceived level of support from the authorities if required. These banks’ ratings are sensitive to a reduction in the level of support Fitch views would be forthcoming from the Nigerian authorities – either through indications of a reduced willingness to support or the ability to do so.

The latter would be signalled by a downgrade of Nigeria’s ‘BB-‘ sovereign rating. In Union’s case, the perceived level of support is enhanced by substantial AMCON ownership.

Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc’s (Stanbic IBTC) National Ratings are driven solely by potential support from its majority parent, Standard Bank Group (‘BBB+’/Negative). The ratings of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTB) and Zenith Bank Plc (Zenith) are based on these banks’ individual strengths.

GTB and Zenith have the highest stand-alone VRs among the Nigerian banks at ‘b+’. The VRs on these banks reflect their strong domestic franchises, superior asset quality relative to peers and acceptable levels of capital.

The ratings also take into account their relatively resilient earnings throughout Nigeria’s banking crisis and GTB’s positive outlier cost/income ratio. Upward potential for these ratings is limited due to Nigeria’s challenging operating environment.

The VRs could be sensitive to a material weakening of levels of core capitalisation, possibly by loan growth exceeding retained earnings over time. If this were to occur, GTB’s Issuer Default Rating (IDR) could fall to its Support Rating Floor (SRF) of ‘B’ while Zenith’s IDR would not be affected due to its SRF at ‘B+’.

First Bank’s VR at ‘b’ takes account of its improved asset quality and reduced concentrations of problem loans following the sale of loans to AMCON. It also acknowledges the bank’s dominant domestic franchise and acceptable levels of capital. The VR could be positively sensitive to a track record of stable asset quality and maintenance of stable and/or improving Fitch Core Capital and leverage ratios. Downward pressure is limited in the short-term following significantly improved asset quality due to AMCON intervention.

Access’s VR of ‘b-‘ reflects earnings and asset quality that were sensitive to the Nigerian banking crisis and a historically developing franchise. In the medium-term, an upgrade could result from a track record of entrenching its expanded franchise following the acquisition of Intercontinental Bank Plc and stable asset quality through a cycle as well as stable or improving Fitch Core Capital and leverage ratios. Downward pressure is limited in the near-term.

Diamond and UBA’s ‘b-‘ VRs reflect their low Fitch Core Capital ratios and weak earnings through the banking crisis. The poor financial performance of these institutions was driven by weak operating efficiencies and high levels of impairment charges as a result of poor asset quality. Positive actions on these ratings would be sensitive to Fitch Core Capital and leverage ratios increasing significantly from current levels, possibly from demonstrating improved efficiency and underwriting. Downward pressure on these VRs in the short to medium term is limited following the sale of problem loans to AMCON during 2010 and 2011. This has materially improved the asset quality of these institutions.

Union’s VR of ‘ccc’ has limited downward pressure given the bank’s recent capital injection. Positive rating sensitivity could come from a track record of improving operating earnings and management’s ability to transition from restructuring a failed institution to running the bank as a going concern.

Stanbic IBTC’s ratings could only change if there were a material change in SBG’s willingness or ability to support the bank.

A Special Report will be available shortly at www.fitchratings.com giving more details on the banks discussed in this RAC. Credit updates and Full Rating Reports on each of the individual banks will follow this.

The rating actions are as follows:

Access
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘A-(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F2(nga)’
Viability Rating: affirmed at ‘b-‘
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B’

Diamond
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘BBB+(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F2(nga)’
Viability Rating: affirmed at ‘b-‘
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B’

Fidelity
National Long-term rating: upgraded to ‘BBB+(nga) from ‘BBB-(nga)’
National Short-term rating: upgraded to ‘F2(nga)’ from ‘F3(nga)’

First Bank
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B+’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘A+(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F1(nga)’
Viability Rating: upgraded to ‘b’ from ‘b-‘
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B+’

GTB
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B+’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘AA-(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F1+(nga)’
Viability Rating: affirmed at ‘b+’
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B’

GTB Finance BV’s Senior Notes, guaranteed by Guaranty Trust Bank: affirmed at
‘B+’, ‘RR4’

GTB Finance BV’s Global Medium-term Note Programme, guaranteed by Guaranty Trust
Bank: affirmed Long-term Rating at ‘B+’, ‘RR4’ and Short-term Rating at ‘B’

Stanbic IBTC
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘AAA(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F1+(nga)’

UBA
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B+’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘A+(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F1(nga)’
Viability Rating: affirmed at ‘b-‘
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B+’

Union
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B+’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘A+(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F1(nga)’
Viability Rating: upgraded to ‘ccc’, from ‘c’
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B+’

Zenith
Long-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B+’. Stable Outlook
Short-term foreign currency IDR: affirmed at ‘B’
National Long-term rating: affirmed at ‘AA-(nga)’
National Short-term rating: affirmed at ‘F1+(nga)’
Viability Rating: affirmed at ‘b+’
Support Rating: affirmed at ‘4’
Support Rating Floor: affirmed at ‘B+’