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Court Orders First Bank to Pay Interest of N2.9Bn to FAAN

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A Lagos Federal High Court has ordered First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc to pay the sum of N2,937,925,388.52 billion, to the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) being an interest for not disclosing under-payment of credit interest on deposits in 14 different current accounts domiciled with the bank.

Court Orders First Bank to Pay Interest of N2.9Bn to FAAN

Justice Ayokunle Faji, while delivering judgment in suit numbered FHC/L/CS/67/2021 filed by FAAN, also held that First Bank breached its own professional Code of Ethics, by not disclosing all information on goods and services offered, including the interest rate payable by the bank.

Justice Faji made the above orders and declarations in a judgment delivered on October 9, 2023.

The plaintiff (FAAN) had in its originating Summons dated and filed on January 13, 2021, urged the Court to determine whether First Bank is entitled to pay interest on the applicant’s (FAAN) current deposits in lime with the Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary, Credit Foreign Trade and Exchange Policy Guideline of 2004/2005 No 37, Section 3, Sub-Section 3.2.4(a) Interest Policy, which states that “Banks shall continue to pay interest on current account deposits at rates negotiated between them and their customers.

Consequently, the applicant seeks the following reliefs: “An order for the payment of interest on the underpayment of interest on the current account deposits of the applicant at the respondent’s maximum lending rate from 1st September 2018 up to the date of refund.

“An order for the payment of the sum of N2,117,955, 865.01 billion, being interest on underpayment of credit interest on deposits in the applicant’s current account numbers.

“An Order for the payment of the sum of N819, 969, 523.51 million, being credit interest payable on the applicant’s current account deposits in account numbers: A declaration that in pursuance of the Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Policy Guidelines (Monetary Policy Circular), the Applicant is entitled to credit interest on its current account numbers 2004728814, 2004730671, 2004731403, 2004747983, 2012104714, 2012114742, 2013512417, 2020114013, 2020114439, 2020119427, 2020210135, 2020,211974, 2020213521 and 2020268284; deposits with the respondent.

“A declaration that in pursuance of the Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Policy Guidelines (Monetary Policy Circular), the applicant is entitled to receive interest on the credit interest the respondent failed to pay on the current account deposits of the applicant.”

But, in response to the Originating Summons, the First Bank in its 32-paragraph counter affidavit, raised two issues for determination to wit: “Whether having regards to the absence of any negotiation and/or agreement between the applicant and the respondent for payment of interest on the applicant’s current account with the respondent, the applicant is entitled to the reliefs sought on the face of the Originating Summons?

“Whether given the Central Bank of Nigeria’s circular “Time Bar for Resolution of Customer’s Complaint” dated 21st August 2015, this suit is statute-barred and constitutes an abuse of court process?”

First Bank stated that by Section 3.2.10 (a) of the Central Bank of Nigeria Monetary, Credit, Foreign Trade and Exchange Policy Guidelines, the words used in the said Section 3.2.10. (a) are clear and plain and should be given literal or ordinary meaning. It follows, therefore, that before interest can be paid on a current account, the interest rate should have been negotiated and agreed upon between the customer and the bank.

The bank further argued that the applicant did not exhibit or refer to any document to show that it approached or negotiated with the respondent on the interest rate to be paid by the respondent for the credit balances in the applicant’s current accounts with the respondent.

It also stated that the applicant has failed to discharge the burden placed on it by placing sufficient materials before the court, therefore the reliefs sought cannot be granted.

Delivering judgement on the issues raised, Justice Faji held that in line with paragraph 2 of the Bank Customer Bill of Rights and Duties and paragraph 3.5(b) of Nigerian Banking Industry (Professional Code of Ethics and Business Conduct), First Bank is duty bound to disclose to the applicant all information on goods and services offered.

“This seems to me to impose a duty on the defendant as part of the ethics of the banking profession. This is where I therefore have reason to hold that the defendant indeed failed to disclose the interest regime to the plaintiff without which the plaintiff would not have been able to know that the interest was to be negotiated and thus make the first move.

“In any event, it is apparent that a banker owes its customer a fiduciary duty and given the rules guiding the ethics of the banking industry, it seems to me that there was a duty on the defendant to inform the plaintiff of its right to negotiate interest. That duty is imposed by the code of ethics aforesaid which is binding on all banks in Nigeria, the defendant inclusive.

“That is in my view the basis for the fiduciary duty owed the plaintiff by the defendant. It is a code of ethics which the defendant ought to have followed and by which it is bound. By not disclosing such information to the plaintiff, the – defendant had breached its professional code of ethics and that in my view was done to gain an unfair advantage over the plaintiff as regards the payment of interest on current accounts. By those rules, the plaintiff is entitled to information upon which to have a basis to negotiate interest which was not availed by the defendant.

“Furthermore and by paragraph 3.5(b) of Nigerian Banking Industry (Professional Code of Ethics and Business Conduct) 2014, banks are under an obligation to inform their customers about the interest rates applicable to/payable on their deposit, fixed, savings and other accounts.

“This shows clearly that the defendant violated its code of ethics. It is also not in dispute that the interest has not been paid. The plaintiff calculated its expert. The defendant contends that the defendant was not involved in the computation of the interest as done by the plaintiff’s consultant.

“The defendant did not however state its calculation or show its own experts’ report. It also did not an expert show that plaintiffs’ calculations are wrong. I believe the contents of the report tendered by plaintiff’s expert who has shown evidence of experience in matters of this nature.

“I hold that the sums therein stated are due to be paid by the defendant and ought to be so paid. I hold that the sums determined as unpaid interest are due to the plaintiff from the defendant and the defendant is therefore ordered to pay the sums claimed.

“This action therefore succeeds. I answer the 4 questions for determination in the affirmative and in favour of the plaintiff. I grant the declarations sought in reliefs 1 and 3 and make the orders sought in reliefs 2, 4 and 5,” the judge held.

 

 

 


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E-Financial

Zenith Bank Emerges as Nigeria’s Tier-1 Capital Leader for the 15th Consecutive Year @2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Ranking

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Zenith Bank Plc for fifteenth consecutive year has retained its position as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital in the 2024 Top 1000 World Banks’ Rankings, published by The Banker Magazine.

This ranking places Zenith Bank Plc as the 565th Bank globally with a Tier-1 Capital of $2.01 billion. The rankings, published in the July 2024 edition of The Banker Magazine of the Financial Times Group, United Kingdom, recognise Zenith Bank’s continued financial strength and stability.

They are based on the 2023 year-end Tier-1 capital of banks globally and remain the primary source for global bank financials used by most international organisations in their assessments of banks.

Tier-1 Capital describes capital adequacy, the core measure of a bank’s financial strength from a regulator’s perspective. According to the ranking, Tier-1 Capital, as defined by the latest Bank for International Settlements (BIS) guidelines, includes loss-absorbing capital, i.e., common stock, disclosed reserves, retained earnings, and minority interests in the equity of subsidiaries that are less than wholly owned. A strong Tier-1 capital ratio boosts investor and depositor confidence, indicating the Bank is well-capitalised and financially stable.

Commenting on this achievement, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, OON, said, “We are deeply honoured to be recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fifteenth consecutive year.

“This recognition is a testament to our strategic focus on sustainable growth, innovation, and customer satisfaction. It also emphasises our resilience and strength in navigating the ever-evolving financial landscape.

“Our dedicated team of professionals has remained steadfast in ensuring that we maintain our position at the forefront of the banking industry.” She extended her profound and sincere appreciation to the Founder and Chairman, Dr. Jim Ovia, CFR, whose visionary and transformative leadership has played a pivotal role in cultivating a resilient and thriving establishment.

“She also expressed her deep appreciation for the board’s insightful governance, the staff’s relentless dedication, and the unwavering loyalty of the bank’s esteemed customers to the Zenith brand.

Zenith Bank’s financial performance for the year was driven by a remarkable triple-digit growth of 125% in gross earnings, from N945.6 billion reported in 2022 to N2.132 trillion in 2023.

This growth led to an improved market share in both the retail and corporate segments despite a persistently challenging macroeconomic environment. The increase in gross earnings was primarily due to growth in interest and non-interest income. Interest income growth was attributed to the increase in the size of risk assets and their effective repricing, while non-interest income was driven by significant trading gains and gains from the revaluation of foreign currencies.

Zenith Bank recently commenced recapitalisation efforts with the conclusion of its Capital Markets Day held on 11th July 2024. It aims to raise the least amount of capital amongst its peers at N230 billion, considering it already maintains a robust capital base of N270.7 billion.

The Bank remains dedicated to supporting the growth of the Nigerian economy and providing its numerous customers with innovative and efficient banking solutions.

Zenith Bank’s track record of excellent performance has continued to earn the brand numerous awards, with these latest accolades coming on the heels of several recognitions. These include being recognised as the Number One Bank in Nigeria by Tier-1 Capital for the fourteenth consecutive year in the 2023 Top 1000 World Banks Ranking, published by The Banker Magazine.

The Bank was also awarded the Bank of the Year (Nigeria) in The Banker’s Bank of the Year Awards for 2020 and 2022; and Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria in the International Banker 2024 Banking Awards.

Further recognitions include Best Bank in Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 in the Global Finance World’s Best Banks Awards and Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria for three consecutive years from 2021 to 2023 in the World Finance Banking Awards.

Additionally, Zenith Bank has been acknowledged as the Best Corporate Governance Bank, Nigeria, in the World Finance Corporate Governance Awards for 2022 and 2023, and ‘Best in Corporate Governance’ Financial Services’ Africa for four consecutive years from 2020 to 2023 by the Ethical Boardroom.

The Bank’s commitment to excellence saw it being named the Most Valuable Banking Brand in Nigeria in the Banker Magazine Top 500 Banking Brands for 2020 and 2021, and Retail Bank of the Year for three consecutive years from 2020 to 2022 at the BusinessDay Banks and Other Financial Institutions (BAFI) Awards.

The Bank also received the accolades of Most Sustainable Bank, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2023 Banking Awards, Best Commercial Bank, Nigeria and Best Innovation in Retail Banking, Nigeria, in the International Banker 2022 Banking Awards.

Zenith Bank was named Bank of the Decade (People’s Choice) at the ThisDay Awards 2020, Bank of the Year 2021 by Champion Newspaper, Bank of the Year 2022 by New Telegraph Newspaper, and Most Responsible Organisation in Africa 2021 by SERAS Awards.


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CBN Expects N20trn from Dormant Accounts

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has directed banks and other financial institutions to deposit unclaimed balances and funds in dormant accounts to the apex bank accounts.

CBN Expects N20trn from Dormant Accounts

According to the CBN the accounts dormant for at least 10 years are to be transferred to its custody, in a bid to standardise the management of these funds and curb potential abuses.

This initiative is part of new guidelines introduced by the CBN to enhance oversight and ensure these funds are managed appropriately for the benefit of their rightful owners.

Earlier data released by the CBN had indicated that the estimated dormant account balances in Nigerian banks have accumulated to over N20 trillion.

With nearly 20 million bank accounts that are inactive in the country, the CBN directed banks to begin transferring funds in dormant accounts into the “Unclaimed Balances Trust Fund (UBTF) Pool Account domiciled with it.

Data from the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) show that there are 19.799 million bank accounts that are dormant as at the end of the first quarter of this year, representing 6.81 per cent of all bank accounts in the country.

This is according to the just released Guidelines on Management of Dormant Accounts, Unclaimed  Balances and Other Financial Assets in Banks and Other Financial Institutions in Nigeria.

A circular signed by John Onojah, acting director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department, noted that the guideline amongst others, standardised the management of dormant accounts, unclaimed balances and financial assets, and outlines the procedure for the administration of these balances, funds, and assets by banks and other financial institutions in Nigeria.

Consequently, account balances in bank accounts that have been dormant for a period of 10 years will be transferred into the pool account, however, banks are expected to publish on their websites, details of all dormant accounts, six months prior to their eligibility for transfer to CBN.

The guideline stated that eligible accounts are dormant accounts balances that have remained with the FIs for a period of 10 years and beyond. These include current, savings and term deposits in local currency as well as domiciliary accounts.

Likewise, deposits towards the purchase of shares and mutual investments; prepaid card accounts and wallets;  Government Owned Accounts; proceeds of uncleared and unpresented financial instruments belonging to  customers or non-customers of financial institutions, unclaimed salaries and wages, commissions, and bonuses will be eligible for transfer.

Others include proceeds of stale local and/or foreign currency drafts not presented for payment by beneficiaries; funds received from a correspondent bank without sufficient details as to the rightful beneficiary and/or a recall of funds made to the remitting bank to which the Nigerian bank account had not been debited; a judgment debt for which the judgment creditor has not claimed the amount of judgment award; and any other deposits or financial assets that may be designated by CBN.

However, accounts that are subject of litigation; a judgment debt for which the judgment creditor has not claimed the amount of judgment award and the case is still active in Court; accounts under investigation by a regulatory authority or law enforcement agency; and encumbered accounts including, but not limited to, collaterals and liens are exempted.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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RT Briscoe Launches Recapitalization Fund

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RT Briscoe Nigeria Plc is proud to announce the launch of a first of its kind, the “R.T. Briscoe Savings and Investment Fund”. The fund is the first to allow investors save within a regulated vehicle towards investing into the capital of a target company. Following approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This milestone marks a significant step in RT Briscoe’s commitment to providing innovative opportunities to its existing and potential shareholders to invest in the company with a savings plan.

This approach ensures that investors can own a stake in R.T. Briscoe Nigeria PLC through a saving plan (monthly or otherwise) towards their target investment amount in the company., This makes it much easier and very accessible to a broader range of investors who may not have the one-off capital to invest at once but, instead would be able to save towards it over a period of time.

The R.T. Briscoe Savings and Investment Fund is an open-ended money market fund with the primary objective being to offer unitholders a steady stream of income whilst they save towards their target investment in the company and also provide the investor with capital preservation at the point of the conversion into ordinary shares of R.T, Briscoe.

By investing the pooled funds into a diversified portfolio of high-quality money market instruments, the fund ensures low risk and competitive returns. Essentially, this is a save-to-invest in your company, R.T. Briscoe.

The fund is professionally managed by DLM Asset Management Limited who recently won the best Asset Management company of the year at the African Industrial and Development Conference and Awards.

This accolade underscores their commitment to ensuring expert oversight and strategic investment decisions. First City Monument Bank Limited serves as the custodian, while UTL Trust Management Services acts as the trustee, providing additional security and transparency.

With a minimum subscription of 10 units at N1,000 per unit, the fund is accessible with a minimum investment of N10,000. The fund comprises 1,000,000 units available for subscription, providing many opportunities for investors.

Additionally, the fund offers liquidity, allowing easy access to investments and the final option to convert the investor’s holdings into equity ownership in R.T. Briscoe Nigeria PLC.

Seyi Onajide, Group Managing Director and Chief Executive of RT Briscoe Nigeria Plc, expressed his enthusiasm about the launch: “We are thrilled to introduce the R.T. Briscoe Savings and Investment Fund, demonstrating our dedication to providing reliable and accessible investment opportunities that empower all investors to achieve their investment goals in our company with ease.

“This launch underscores our commitment to innovation and growth, offering clients an opportunity to save to own a part of R.T. Briscoe Nigeria PLC.

“We believe this fund will not only ultimately enhance our capital position, but also reinforce our leadership across our diverse businesses, including Automobile, Industrial Air Compressor, Material Handling, Industrial Equipment, Power, and Real Estate.

Ugonnaya Osi, MD of DLM Asset Management, commented on the RT Briscoe Nigeria Plc fund, emphasizing, “With the expertise of DLM Asset Management Limited and the unwavering support of our trusted partners, we are confident that the RT Briscoe Fund will deliver significant value to our investors and the company.

“As stewards of the RT Briscoe Fund, our commitment extends beyond mere management; we aim to maximize returns and foster sustained financial growth through meticulous oversight and strategic foresight.

“This dedication ensures that every investment decision is informed by a deep understanding of market dynamics and investor needs, reinforcing our pledge to deliver excellence in financial management.” She added.

Investing in the R.T. Briscoe Savings and Investment Fund is straightforward. Interested individuals can fill out a subscription form and complete the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements and just make their target monthly or otherwise payments towards owning a part of Nigeria’s corporate history. For more information and to access the forms, visit https://dlm.group/rtbfund/

RT Briscoe Nigeria Plc invites the public to join in this exciting investment opportunity and take the first step towards financial growth and stability of our investors and R.T. Briscoe’s future.


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