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Forex deals: Firm drags CBN to court, accuses officials of bribery

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A tomato processing company, Erisco Foods Limited, situated in Oregun Lagos, Nigeria has dragged the Central Bank of Nigeria before a Federal High Court in Lagos in suit no: FHC/L/CS/402/17 claiming N20 billion as general damages in consequence of illegal, wrongful, unlawful and unconstitutional conduct by the apex bank denying the company to purchase the United States dollars equivalent from the CBN because of its refusal to offer gratifications to officials of the bank.

Joined as second defendant in the suit is Stanbic IBTC bank.

The claimant explained that it heeded the Federal Government of Nigeria offer under the CBN Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme CACS, by which the FGN gives financial support to Nigerian manufacturers in the agricultural sector by way of loans/credit facilities at interest rates not exceeding 9% per annum and also granting FX to them at the CBN official rates. Erisco further claim that under the scheme, it enjoyed a facility of N500million through its bankers, Stanbic IBTC Bank, and it generated employment opportunities as it additionally employed hundreds of Nigerians.

In the normal course of its business and need for expansion, the plaintiff  avers that funding from its own sources on 16th June, 2015 paid USD$460,000.00 to its foreign suppliers (Messrs Urumqi High Tech Development Zone Elite Trading Co. Ltd.) in China (being 50% of the total cost) for importation of tomato concentrate, the major raw material for its operations. The balance sum of USD$460,000.00 was to be paid by the company (Erisco) to the supplier before the supplier would ship the imported tomato concentrate to the plaintiff in Nigeria.

The tomato firm however, claimed that before it could pay the foreign suppliers the balance of USD$460,000.00, the CBN on 23rd June, 2015 by a circular banned 41 listed items as items that will no longer be valid for foreign exchange (“FX”). In otherwords, importer of the 41 listed items in the said circular of 23rd June, 2015 will have to independently source for FX to pay for such goods as the CBN will no longer sell FX for the importation of such goods at the official exchange rate of the Naira to the US Dollars. And amongst the 41 listed items was “tomatoes/tomato paste.

By this ban, Erisco avers that it could no longer access or obtain FX from the CBN through its bankers (STANBIC IBTC) for the purpose of its tomato business, particularly the importation of tomato concentrates which is the major raw material for its tomato processing lines.

Erisco disclosed that it was shocked and surprised at the action of the CBN in banning access to FX at the official exchange rate for the importation of tomato concentrate, the major raw material of the plaintiff’s tomato processing business as the CBN was fully aware of and had infact, approved and disbursed funds to them under the CACS scheme for setting up of additional four tomato processing lines which uses only imported tomato concentrate as its major raw material and by which hundreds of millions of Naira credit facilities are outstanding.

The plaintiff further alleged that in view of the fact that it had prior to 23rdJune, 2015, when the CBN circular dated 23rd June, 2015 took effect, already paid USD$460,000.00 to its foreign suppliers leaving a balance of USD$460,00.00, it applied through its bankers to approve the purchase of the balance sum of USD$460,000.00 at the official exchange rate to enable it fully pay the foreign suppliers for the importation of the already secured tomato concentrate and thereby conclude the already existing and ongoing transaction for the purchase of imported tomato concentrate.

Erisco claims it was surprised to be informed by its banker that all its request foresaid to the CBN to approve the purchase of the balance sum of USD$460,000.00 at the official exchange rate was not approved, and that the CBN’s circular dated 23rd June, 2015 was not retroactive.

The company claim it took effect from 23rd June, 2015 and regulate transactions from 23rd June, 2015 onwards. According to the firm, “it does not regulate prior, ongoing or existing and part performed transactions, only fresh transaction commenced after 23rd June, 2015 that ought to be regulated by the 1stDefendant’s circular dated 23rdJune, 2015.”

Erisco further avers that by its corporate operational philosophy of zero tolerance for corruption, had refused to offer gratifications to officials of the CBN.

Consequently, the officials of the bank resolved that it will be dealt with for refusing to “play ball” as all those who “play ball” purchased their needed FX at the official exchange rate from the CBN not notwithstanding that the items they want to import are amongst the 41 listed items banned from accessing FX at the official exchange rate in the CBN’s circular dated 23rd June, 2015.

Erisco, in its statement of claim listed over 50 companies with newspaper publication attached, that were granted FX by the CBN despite the CBN circular of 23rd June, 2015 thereby claiming that its refusal to offer bribe to officials of the CBN resulted to its action against it.

It is, therefore, urging the court to order the defendants to pay it the sum of N20 billion as special and general damages to assuage the economic misfortune it has suffered.

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Lagos set to host second Nigeria Beer Festival

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From Left to Right: Mr. Dele Balogun, Executive Secretary, Lagos State Film and Video Censors Board ;Mr. FolaAdeyemi, Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and Mr. Akinola Oluwaleimu, Chief Co-ordinator, Nigeria Beer Festival Group at the media interactive session on the festival in Lagos on Wednesday

After a successful and large participation of people at the first edition of the Nigeria Beer Festival which debuted last year in Lagos, the organiser the event has announced that Lagos will be hosting the second edition again.

The week-long event will hold on Thursday October 25th to Wednesday October 31st at the Eko Atlantic City, Bar Beach Water front Ahmadu Bello Way, Victoria Island, Lagos to give it a carnival-like atmosphere .

Speaking at a press conference to announce the event in Lagos on Wednesday, Mr. Fola Adeyemi, the Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture explained that the festival is in line with government’s agenda to grow the tourism and economy of the state.

He stated that Lagos state is collaborating with beer brewers in the country and their counterparts across the globe to stimulate the economic and tourism potentials in the State.

He enjoined Lagosians to come out in their large numbers to enjoy the ambience of the festival, assuring that the city is safe for fun lovers because of the various infrastructure development by the state such as Light-up Lagos among others.

“Lagos is a city state and in league with great cities all over the world. We are actually moving the state to a 24 hour economy and this festival will be part of the beneficiaries. Lagos is safe for fun and business. We are joining the global tourism world to create impact on the economy of Lagos and Nigeria.” he said.

Also speaking at the event, Akinola Oluwaleimu, General Manager of On and One Events Limited, the organisers of the festival informed that the festival is to promote culture, tourism, friendship and for beer brands to connect with their consumers.

He added that the festival, will promote responsible drinking among drinking-age (18 +) consumers at all its touch points.

According to him, the event, since it debuted last year, has seen Nigeria enrolled into the league of Beer Festivals around the world, and boost the country’s tourism opportunities.

“It will be a gathering of the largest community of beer consumers from across the country and beyond.This year’s edition will be bigger, better and “beertiful”, he said.

He revealed that the 2017 edition attracted over ten thousand beer enthusiasts and consequently the Festival has proven to become a major international tourist event in Nigeria with a potential to compete with other international beer festivals around the world.

“Nigeria Beer Festival will be a carnival week of entertainment, sales and marketing and a gathering of the largest community of beer consumers from across the country to bond and ‘beer’,” Oluwaleimu assured.

He added that the Nigeria Beer Festival will provide a fitting ambience to showcase culture and lifestyle in a carnival atmosphere with various beer brands and other alcoholic drinks in Nigeria connecting with their existing and potential consumers.

Oluwaleimu maintained that the festival, which will commence 4 p.m daily is a big opportunity for major breweries to exhibit and deliver various offerings of beer brands to the teeming consumers to strengthen brand relationship with them. “The timing promises an after work relaxation environment to bond with friends and associates, he said”

He also acknowledged the support of the Lagos State government through His Excellency, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode who found the private driven initiative worthy enough of its endorsement and providing necessary logistics support in security, health, safety and publicity to ensure a hitch free event.

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Transcorp appoints new management team

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Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), has announced new appointments into its board and executive management. The company in a statement Tuesday said Valentine Ozigbo, has been appointed as its President/CEO with effect from January 1, 2019. He will succeed Adim Jibunoh, who is retiring on December 31.

The statement said Mr Ozigbo, currently the MD/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc, owner of the prestigious Transcorp Hilton Abuja, will bring over 20 years’ experience in banking, business development, hospitality and corporate transformation. ‘‘A multiple award winner, Mr Ozigbo holds an M.Sc. Finance from Lancaster University, UK; an MBA in Banking & Finance and a B.Sc. in Accounting from the University of Nigeria. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria.

‘‘Similarly, Owen Omogiafo has been appointed as the MD/CEO of Transcorp Hotels Plc effective from January 1, 2019. She is currently the Executive Director, Corporate Services at Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc,” the statement added.

Also according to the statement, Mrs Omogiafo has over 18 years’ corporate experience in organisational development strategy, human capital management, banking, change and business management. The Board of Transcorp also approved the appointments of Obi Ibekwe and Toyin Sanni as Non-Executive Directors, following the retirement of Kayode Fasola and Abdulqadir Bello.

These appointments are effective October 30, 2018. ‘‘While Ms Sanni was Group Chief Executive Officer at United Capital Plc , a position she retired from in June., Ms Ibekwe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, U.S.A., a Bachelor of Law degree from the University of Lagos and an MBA degree from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, U.S.A. She has over two decades experience in banking, holding senior executive and senior management positions spanning credit and marketing, credit risk management, human resources and customer service,” the statement read in part.

The company also announced the appointment of Emmanuel Nnorom as the Chairman of its Board, following the retirement of Mr Bello. Speaking on these appointments, the Chairman of Transcorp, Tony Elumelu, reportedly expressed his confidence that the newly appointed chief executives and non-executive directors will further strengthen Transcorp’s core purpose of improving lives across Nigeria.

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Diamond Bank launches Visa Signature Debit Card

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Diamond Bank Plc has launched Visa Signature Debit Card, which is designed specifically for affluent clients. The bank in a statement issued at the weekend, said the product is a unique naira debit card designed to provide customers exceptional spending power and exclusive privileges.

According to Diamond Bank, the new debit card gives affluent customers the opportunity to have wider and richer experiences when they relax or travel, home and abroad.

Head, Consumer Banking, Diamond Bank, Karimot Tukur, said “our customers told us that they want more travel benefits, greater peace of mind and something a lot more rewarding than they get from an everyday current account.”

She said with the Diamond Visa Signature Debit card, together with Xclusive Plus, customers get access to over 800 airport lounges around the world, VIP treatment at top hotels and complimentary worldwide travel insurance for trips paid for on the card.

Adding that the insurance is even valid for foreign visa applications, Tukur added “our customers also get great entertainment benefits closer to home, including complementary event tickets through the year and free cinema tickets.”

Diamond Bank is one of the fastest growing retail banks. Through innovation and technology, Diamond Bank enhances customer experiences and drives financial inclusion in what is known as ‘Beyond Banking’.

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