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CBN Ditches Polymer, Goes for Paper Banknotes

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced it will revert to paper banknotes, in a policy switch bucking a growing trend around the world for tougher polymer-based currency.

The Central Bank of Nigeria signed a deal in 2006 with Australia’s Securency International to print lower more-circulated units of the naira in polymer, while higher denominations were kept in paper form.

But six years down the line — and after allegations that the manufacturer bribed foreign officials to secure contracts, including in Nigeria — the CBN said it was being forced to reverse the policy.

“Polymer has been on a test run since 2007. This explains why we did not go the whole hog by printing all the notes in polymer,” Ugochukwu Okoroafor, CBN’s spokesman told AFP.

“We only used polymer for N5, N10, N20 and N50, while N100, N200, N500 and N1,000 are in paper form.

“We soon discovered that the (polymer) notes easily fade out because of our peculiar hot climate in Nigeria… making them look tattered when in use over time.”

Earlier experiments indicated that the polymer-based notes, which are in use in 23 countries around the world, including Australia, could last longer than traditional cotton-paper notes.

But Nigeria’s central bank said there had been a public outcry about the poorer quality of some of the new currency in circulation.

Securency International was reported to have supplied 1.9 billion of its Guardian brand polymer-based notes to Nigeria between 2006 and 2008.

In the wake of the bribery claims, the Reserve Bank of Australia sold its 50 percent stake in the firm.

Innovia Security, which bought out Securency International earlier this year, said it did not comment on clients or their business but added that a number of countries with hot and humid climates used their product.

“We have had no issues of premature ink wear or colour fading in these markets,” a spokesman said in an emailed statement.

‘Policy somersaults’

Nigeria, whose economy is predominantly cash-based, is looking to increase people’s use of electronic payment methods such as credit cards, online trading and introducing cashpoint machines in a bid to try to reduce the amount individuals carry around at any one time.

However, there are concerns that switching back to paper notes is a sign of a lack of a coherent policy.

“My concern is that Nigeria is fond of policy somersaults,” said Moruf Akamo, a former banker.

“What becomes of the initial investment in the polymer technology, considering that the notes have been in circulation for only six years after their adoption in 2007?”

Akamo said the CBN should have done more research to ascertain the feasibility of polymer notes before starting the project.

“Why is Nigeria going back and forth? It’s time our policy makers got their acts together and do what is right for this country,” he said.

Yemi Adegbola advised the central bank against spending money to print paper notes, which can degrade quickly with daily handling and the tropical climate.

“I can’t see any logic in going back to paper notes,” said Adegbola, a treasury manager at a commercial bank in Lagos.

“The trend worldwide is to embrace polymer. I wonder why Nigeria’s case is different?” he added, claiming that polymer was less susceptible to forgery.

“It’s not easy to fake polymer notes like paper notes,” he said.

Ufoma Okeke, a 25-year-old business administration student, said the CBN should not waste scarce resources on paper banknotes.

“Nigeria is broke. The states are finding it difficult to pay their bills. We can better utilise our limited resources rather than waste such on a white elephant project,” she cautioned.

The CBN, however, said the switchover, likely from the middle of 2014, would not be a drain on the country’s finances and would be gradual.

“What we have decided is to switch over to paper notes when we next want to print naira notes,” said Okoroafor.

“When the polymer notes in circulation become tattered and ready to be disposed of, we will start the printing of paper notes.”

New paper notes will be printed locally by the state-run Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company rather than abroad, he added


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Oreoluwa Adesakin, First Bank Staff Jailed for Stealing N49m

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Oreoluwa Adesakin, a staff of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has been convicted for fraud and handed a total term of 98 years in prison by Justice Muniru Olagunju of the Oyo State High Court.

Oreoluwa Adesakin, First Bank Staff Jailed for Stealing N49m

Oreoluwa Adesakin

But she will spend just seven years in jail.

Adesakin was found to have committed financial fraud against First Bank to the tune of N49,320,652.32.

She also stole $368,203.00 belonging to the bank, which she converted to her personal use.

Adesakin, before she was busted by the bank and sacked, was its Money Transfer Operator, saddled with the responsibility of effecting payments through Western Union Money Transfer and MoneyGram platforms.

The convict was prosecuted by the Ibadan Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on a 14-count charge, bordering on stealing, forgery and fraudulent accounting.

One of the counts read: “That you Oreoluwa Adesakin sometime between the months of May, 2013 and November, 2013, at Ibadan within the Ibadan Judicial Division, whilst being a staff of First Bank PLC stole the sum of N25,974,116.13 (Twenty Five Million, Nine Hundred and Seventy Four Thousand, One Hundred and Sixteen Naira, Thirteen Kobo) from First Bank PLC MoneyGram Payment Naira Account, property of First bank PLC.”

She pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Usman Murtala, prosecution counsel, presented every vital document and witnesses which nailed the convict.

Justice Olagunju noted that the EFCC presented incontrovertible evidence against the convict and did a diligent investigation and prosecution.

He thus pronounced Adesakin guilty of all the counts.

He sentenced her to seven years in prison without an option of fine on each of the 14 counts. The sentencing will run concurrently.

Apart from the jail term, the convict is also to restitute the First Bank, through the EFCC, all the money she stole.

The convict was arraigned April 4, 2014 by the EFCC following a conclusion of investigations against her which arose from a petition from her former employer, dated December 18, 2013.

The bank alleged in the petition that Adesakin fraudulently manipulated its Moneygram accounting and withdrew N49,320,652.32 and another $368,203.00 for herself, which the bank only uncovered while reviewing its internal account.

The EFCC was also able to establish that the convict used part of the proceeds of her crime to acquire landed properties in different parts of Oyo State.


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CIBN Recertifies NDIC Academy as Bankers Training Provider

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Council of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) has recertified the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) Academy as a training service provider for various professionals in the banking industry.

CIBN Recertifies NDIC Academy as Bankers Training Provider

The council also renewed the academy’s accreditation for the next three years, effective from June 2020.

Mr. Saubana Ogunpola, head of the five-man CIBN Accreditation Team, said the recertification followed the exemplary performance of the NDIC Academy since it initial accreditation in 2016 and the satisfaction of the stringent conditions for the recertification.

The recertification, according to Mr. Saubana Ogunpola, Head of the five-man CIBN Accreditation Team, followed the exemplary performance of the NDIC Academy since its initial accreditation in 2016 and the satisfaction of the stringent conditions for the recertification.

He noted that there would be periodic monitoring to ensure that quality standards are being adhered to.

Mr Ogunpola commended the NDIC for its consistent efforts toward meeting the high standards for the benefit of the banking industry and the larger economy.

He described the NDIC’s readiness to subject itself to the rigors of the Institute’s accreditation process as a testimony of its Management’s commitment to capacity development for all stakeholders.

In his reaction, Mr. Umaru Ibrahim, managing director/chief executive, NDIC, described the recertification as another milestone in the NDIC efforts to consolidate the position of the Academy as a center of academic excellence in the nation’s banking industry and on deposit insurance in Africa.

Mr Ibrahim disclosed that the Academy had so far trained a total of 13,368 participants cutting across the NDIC’s workforce.

“It had also trained 135 participants from relevant stakeholders, including the EFCC, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Assets Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), National Pension Commission (PENCOM) and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

“On the international front, 19 employees from sister deposit insurance agencies in other African countries had benefitted from the expertise of the Academy,” the managing director noted.

He stated that the NDIC Academy has been designated to host the African Centre for Studies on Deposit Insurance System (ACSDIS) recently established by the Africa Regional Committee (ARC) of the International Association of Deposit Insurance (IADI).

Mr. Ibrahim reiterated that with the recertification, the NDIC Academy is positioned to fulfill the NDIC’s goal of serving as a center of excellence for capacity building on Deposit Insurance Scheme (DIS) for countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

He added that the NDIC prides itself on establishing the highest standards of professionalism and competency among its staff through the NDIC Academy and other human capital development initiatives, including the Chartered Banker/MBA program at Bangor University, Wales in partnership with the CIBN.

The NDIC boss emphasized that the Corporation places high premium on capacity building and continuous high level training of its staff to achieve the NDIC mandate of deposit guarantee, bank supervision, bank distress resolution and liquidation.

“The ultimate goal would be to enhance depositor protection and public confidence in the nation’s banking system,” he said.


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Deloitte, Heritage Bank, PWC Urge Internal Auditors to Embrace IT to Tackle Fraud

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Deloite, Heritage Bank Plc and PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) have urged internal auditors of banks to adopt the various digital technologies to prevent fraud and annul the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the financial ecosystem.

Speaking at the just concluded 47th Quarterly Meeting of the Association of Chief Audit Executives of Banks in Nigeria (ACAEBIN), Ifie Sekibo, the MD/CEO of Heritage Bank, disclosed that for improved banking operations and safer financial system for stakeholders, internal auditors must be dynamic and quick to adopt various digital measures.

Raising the alarming impact of fraudulent activities in the banking sector, Sekibo quoted PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PWC’s) Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2020, revealing that that the total cost of cybercrimes is worth an eye-watering $42 billion, which was cash taken straight off companies’ bottom line, whilst 13% of those who had experienced  fraud said they had lost $50 million-plus.

Sekibo, who spoke on the theme, “Elevating Internal Audit’s Role in the Face of Emerging Risks and Opportunities” organised virtually and hosted by the Heritage Bank, urged, “While it was sufficient for yesterday’s auditor to understand regular and routine banking practices such as credit, treasury, etc in his traditional assurance role, for him to be relevant in harnessing the opportunities in today’s business world, he must become versed in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, data analytics, fraud management, regulatory pronouncements, forensics etc and having equipped himself, present balanced, objective audit reports to Executive Management while striking the right balance between the assurance and consulting responsibilities.”

In her keynote address, titled, “Elevating Internal Audit Role In The Face Of Emerging Risks and Opportunities,” Ibukun Beecroft, Partner Risk Advisory at Deloitte, noted that the banking industry in Nigeria today has adopted various digital measures to keep the business running and delivering services to the customers but there was need for Internal Audit (IA) positioned to provide the required assurance and consulting services in the face of the changes and attendant risk, particularly increased cyber-risks.

Quoting 2018 Financial Stability Report by the Central Bank of Nigeria, she stated that Banks recorded 25,029 confirmed cases of fraud and this resulted in a loss of N2.21 billion. More than 90% of fraud cases in 2018 were perpetrated via technologically driven channels.

“As Internal Auditors, the knowledge of technology would enable us identify gaps in our core banking applications and other applications and provide relevant recommendations to eliminating loopholes that may serve as an avenue for potential fraud.

She, however, advised auditors on the need to focus on advanced technologies and risk management operations as reflected around the Three Lines of Defense (3LOD) churned out by the Institute of Internal Auditors, which create opportunities for IA and its future role.

Beecroft warned that the ever-changing landscape and evolving risks in the banking industry could render the current internal audit plan obsolete.

According to her, internal auditors should reprioritise the audit plan as soon as possible to provide assurance over the most consequential risks while being cognisant of the impact on operations.

“To take advantage of these changes and disruptions, auditors need to rethink their role by adapting to and embracing change, enabling the IA function to become more agile, nimble, and forward-looking, thus driving change through the 3LOD,” Beecroft stated.

Yetunde Oladeji, Director Internal Audit Services at PricewaterhouseCoopers Limited (PWC), who spoke on the theme, “Elevating IA’s role to meet today’s emerging risks,” advised that the banking sector should be dynamic, prioritse digitization and flexibible workforce strategies as these would determine its ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances to survive and thrive.


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