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Fears of Banking Crisis over Bad Loans

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Some banks in the country are reportedly not making adequate provisions for bad and doubtful loans in their books as mandated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the development may trigger another systemic crisis in the banking sector if unchecked, according to Vanguard Newspapers

 It will be recalled that it was as a result of huge non-performing loans in the Nigerian banking sector that led to the CBN intervention in five banks in 2009.

Banks are supposed to make adequate provisions for non- performing loans from their shareholders’ funds in order to avert the kind of situation which led to financial crisis in 2009.

Vanguard investigations have shown that  banks’ bad debts are beginning to grow again in the banking sector following the outcry from the recently privatised firms in the Power sector of their inability to service the loans they obtained from the financial institutions which have grown to over N250 billion

Meanwhile, the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, (AMCON) has said that it will no longer buy any bad debt from any bank.

According Mr. Kayode Lambo, AMCON spokesman, “AMCON is no longer buying NPLs and we have been repeating that. The CBN is the only institution that can say we should buy.” Commenting further, he said: “If it is true that some banks’ non-performing loans are accumulating, then they should make provisions for such or sell such NPLs to someone else, not AMCON.”

Reacting on the development, some operators in the Nigerian capital market who preferred to remain anonymous said: “It is time for the regulators to beam their searchlights on these banks.

The financial statement of banks should be thoroughly examined. How can operators in the recently privatised power sector not be able to pay the loan they took from the banks, given the arbitrary charges and huge returns they make from low power supply?

The banks that gave loans to these companies should ensure that appropriate provisions are made as mandated by the CBN, otherwise, we shall begin to see another sign of distress in the sector.”

It will be recalled that the Bankers Committee recently said it would help the privatised power firms clear N25 billion PHCN legacy debts to gas- producing companies.

Also speaking on the development, Mr. Ike Chioke, managing director/chief executive, Afrinvest Plc,  during his presentation of the Afrinvest Nigeria Banking Sector Report in Lagos, noted that there is a growing pile of troubling power assets in the banking industry, while the capacity of the CBN to pursue another bailout in the event of a banking crisis is doubtful.

According to him: “If there is a problem in the power sector and they are not able to service these loans, there is essentially going to be a problem in the banking sector. And if there is a problem, the balance sheet of CBN may not be able to accommodate another bailout.”

The report stated: “The highly applauded power sector privatisation programme of the Federal Government in 2013 may begin to reveal structural and financial challenges in the near term if not well managed.

Approximately $2.5 billion was raised by the BPE in 2013 from the privatisation of PHCN’s generating (GENCOs) and distribution (DISCOs) companies. Another $5.7 billion is expected to be raised by the Federal Government from this year’s sale of the NIPP plants.

A significant portion of the funding for the acquisition of these assets by private sector investors was provided by Nigerian banks with minimal equity contributions. This has absorbed an enormous level of funds from banks. This investment is, however, supposedly yet to yield returns and has in part led to the rush for Eurobonds by banks in 2014 in an attempt to restructure credit to the Power sector.

A major apprehension is the currency mismatch as cash flows from power assets are generated in naira.

More worrisome, however, is that many of the GENCOS and DISCOS earn significantly less than their projected cash flows prior to acquisition due to government’s inability to resolve tariff and gas supply challenges. Cumulatively, the apex bank should keep a close watch on banks’ risk assets to the power space in order to avoid the emergence of another era of toxic assets.

“Our review of the CBN’s balance sheet as at November 2013 raises crucial questions that require urgent attention. The CBN’s proactive response to the 2008/2009 banking crisis was arguably the right move although this has, in itself, magnified CBN’s level of indebtedness.

Over 40.0 per cent of CBN’s asset portfolio is unmarketable, comprising principally of AMCON bonds, intervention funds and development finance loans.

These are long-term investments without a discernible exit time frame other than the eventual performance of the loan portfolio. For instance, the 190.5 per cent surge in other liabilities from N2.1 trillion in December 2009 to N6.1 trillion in November 2013, traceable to the acquisition of AMCON’s debt by the CBN, is alarming.

In the event of another crisis in the banking space, the CBN may not have the capacity to bail out the banks without avoiding the option of printing money, which will have significant consequences on price stability.

As such, we believe the CBN may be forced to raise the AMCON levy on banks from the current 0.5 per cent of total assets plus 0.5 per cent of 33.0 per cent of off-balance sheet items in the coming years,” Chioke emphasised.


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E-Financial

CBN Disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 Intervention Cash

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had disbursed N3.5 trillion to different sectors of the economy to cushion the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.

CBN Disburses N3.5tr COVID-19 Intervention Cash

Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor

It will also contribute N1.8 trillion into the N2.30 trillion Federal Government’s one-year Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) through its Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs).

Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor stated this on Tuesday after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.

Emefiele gave a breakdown of who got what out of the N3.5 trillion COVID-19 intervention as follows: Real Sector (N216.87 billion); COVID-19 Targeted Credit Facility (N73.69 billion); Agri-Business/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (N54.66 billion); Pharmaceutical and Health Care Support (N44.47 billion); and Creative Industry Financing (N2.93 billion).

Under the Real Sector Funds, Emefiele said: “a total of 87 projects that include 53 manufacturing, 21 agriculture and 13 service projects were funded.

He added: “In the health care sector, 41 projects which include 16 pharmaceuticals and 25 hospital and health care services were funded.”

The CBN boss also said: “Under the Targeted Credit Facility, 120,074 applicants received financial support for investment capital.

“The AGSMEIS intervention has been extended to a total of 14,638 applicants, while 250 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), predominantly the youth, have benefited from the Creative Industry Financing Initiative.”

Emefiele said in addition to  the  initiatives, the   apex bank “is set to contribute over N1.8 trillion of the total sum of N2.30 trillion needed for the one year  ESP, through its various financing interventions using the  PFIs.”


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Banks Fingered in $2trn Dirty Money Scam

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Some of the world’s top banks have been found to be complicit in aiding criminals move $2 trillion in dirty money around the world, according to leaked government files.

Banks Fingered in $2trn Dirty Money Scam

The exposition was done by Buzzfeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a group that brings together investigative journalists from around the world, which distributed them to 108 news organisations in 88 countries.

In the revealing documents, they said: “global banks including JPMorgan, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Deutsche Bank, Bank of New York Mellon, among others defied money laundering crackdowns by moving staggering sums of illicit cash for shadowy characters and criminal networks that have spread chaos and undermined democracy around the world.”

It was also revealed that they kept profiting from these powerful and dangerous players even after the United States authorities fined these financial institutions for earlier failures to stem flows of dirty money.

FinCEN is the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. These are the people at the US Treasury who combat financial crime. Concerns about transactions made in US dollars need to be sent to FinCEN, even if they took place outside the US.

Known as the FinCEN files, these are more than 2,600 documents which banks sent to the US authorities between 2000 and 2017 which help show that these banks raise concerns about what their clients might be doing.

They have also been regarded as some of the international banking system’s most closely guarded secrets.

Some of what has been found so far showed that JPMorgan, the largest bank based in the United States, moved money for people and companies tied to the massive looting of public funds in Malaysia, Venezuela and Ukraine, the leaked documents reveal.

The bank moved more than $1 billion for the fugitive financier behind Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal, the records show, and more than $2 million for a young energy mogul’s company that has been accused of cheating Venezuela’s government and helping cause electrical blackouts that crippled large parts of the country.

JPMorgan also processed more than $50 million in payments over a decade, the records show, for Paul Manafort, the former campaign manager for President Donald Trump. The bank shuttled at least $6.9 million in Manafort transactions in the 14 months after he resigned from the campaign amid a swirl of money laundering and corruption allegations spawning from his work with a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

It was also revealed that one of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest associates used Barclays bank in London to avoid sanctions which were meant to stop him from using financial services in the West. Some of the cash was used to buy works of art.

HSBC allowed fraudsters to transfer millions of dollars around the world even after it had learned of their scam, leaked secret files show.

Britain’s biggest bank moved the money through its US business to HSBC accounts in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014.

The United Arab Emirates’ central bank failed to act on warnings about a local firm which was helping Iran evade sanctions.

Deutsche Bank moved money launderers’ dirty money for organised crime, terrorists and drug traffickers.

Standard Chartered moved cash for Arab Bank for more than a decade after clients’ accounts at the Jordanian bank had been used in funding terrorism.

The FinCEN Files represent less than 0.02 per cent of the more than 12 million suspicious activity reports that financial institutions filed with FinCEN between 2011 and 2017.

Mr Fergus Shiel from ICIJ said the leaked files were an “insight into what banks know about the vast flows of dirty money across the globe”. He said the documents also highlighted the extraordinarily large amounts of money involved.


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SEC Boosts Investor Protection with Digital Assets

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has explained that its Digital Assets and their Classification and Treatment is aimed at boosting investors’ protection in the capital market.

Emomotimi Agama, Head, Registration, Exchanges, Market Infrastructure and Innovation of the SEC speaking on the guidelines in an interview said: “The first thing the SEC bothers about is investor protection.

“This is no different from what we have been doing. We are looking at investor protection, integrity, transparency and of course we want to make sure that the market is safe and everyone is comfortable with what is going on in the investment climate”.

Agama noted that last year the Commission launched the Fintech Road map and after that was done, it went ahead to set up the block chain virtual financial assets committee.

“These committees are both market wide and principally done to engage the market, to be able to have discussions with the market and get their buy-in into what we are doing.

“What we found out today is that a lot of persons, youths are all involved in this space and it is important that even as far as that is the case, the SEC lives up to the expectations  and making sure that those people that are getting into the business are protected

“Clearly, that is our aim and the market is part of this and indeed the feedback has been wonderful. People are happy with what we are doing, being able to provide some clarity as to where we stand in terms of digital assets regulation.

“Digital assets is the next thing, our idea is not to stifle innovation, but to promote innovation within a reasonable space and that is exactly what we are doing. Section 13 of the ISA empowers us to do this and so we are doing what we have been empowered to do by law,” he said.

On what internal capacities the SEC is developing to meet the challenges of this fast changing digital financial world, Agama said “the SEC is a knowledge based institution and before we come out of this kind of initiatives, we would have done so much research.

“I need to tell you that the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance has been partnering with the SEC and up to this point, we have been engaging with them and several of our staff have been part of their programmes.

“The World Bank and other institutions are also working with us on Fintech to see that the Nigerian landscape is not left barren but guided with basic principles, we will not leave any stone unturned, but ensure that everyone within the SEC that has the responsibility to guiding investors and the populace in making sure we have an investment environment that people will be proud of is provided.

“Capacity building is a continuous exercise, we will continue to upgrade ourselves, we will continue to learn because knowledge is for life”.


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