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GTBank Under Fire AS UK Fines Bank N4.16bn In Fresh Anti-Money Laundering Scandal

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..’We’ve Addressed Lapses’, MD Reacts

Guaranty Trust Bank UK Limited (GTBank UK) said it has reached a settlement with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), after accepting findings in relation to historical Anti-Money Laundering (AML) controls in its operations from October 2014 to July 2019.

Britain’s financial watchdog fined the UK subsidiary of GTBank 7.6 million pounds ($9.3 million) for what it said were further failures in its anti-money laundering systems and controls, Reuters disclosed.

The bank cooperated fully with the FCA’s investigation and has agreed a penalty sum of GBP7,671,800, which was calculated by reference to a proportion of the revenues of GTBank UK over the relevant period and included a 30 per cent discount for early settlement.

The FCA’s investigation focused on GTBank UK’s AML controls and steps taken by the subsidiary to remediate it to ensure they operated in line with the relevant requirements.

The findings were final, and no further action was anticipated in respect of this matter.

The FCA acknowledged in its findings that GTBank UK had spent considerable time and resource in order to bring its AML standards up to the required level.

Commenting on the issue, Managing Director of GTBank UK, Mr. Gbenga Alade, said: “As a responsible financial services institution that is committed to best practices, GTBank UK takes its AML obligations extremely seriously. We note with sincere regret the FCA’s findings regarding AML control gaps in our operations in the past and we are very sorry for this.”

He further stated: “We would like to assure all our stakeholders and the general public that necessary steps have been taken to address and resolve the identified gaps. Whilst there was no direct customer impairment arising from the period under review [and the FCA’s findings do not include any instances of suspected money laundering], we have since reinforced our AML control framework and implemented changes in our AML processes in line with best practice with a view to ensuring that the highest standards are maintained in our operations.”

“The Guaranty Trust Banking Group, including GTBank UK, is fully committed to the fight against all forms of financial crime and to continuing to meet all applicable financial crime regulations and legislation globally.


“Our AML policies and controls, together with our overall risk management strategy, are regularly reviewed and revised to ensure that they remain relevant and current in line with the evolving regulatory requirements,” the bank stated.

The FCA had in a statement said: “During the relevant period, GT Bank failed to undertake adequate customer risk assessments, often not assessing or documenting the money laundering risks posed by its customers.”

It stated that the weaknesses were repeatedly highlighted to GTBank by internal and external sources, including the FCA, but GTBank failed to take appropriate action to fix them.

The FCA had already fined GT Bank 525,000 pounds in August 2013, for serious and systemic failings related to anti-money laundering controls.


The FCA stated that GTBank did not dispute its findings and agreed to settle, thereby qualifying for a 30 per cent discount on the fine, which would otherwise have amounted to 11 million pounds.

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Business

‘Zenith Bank Contributing To Our Sufferings”, Nigerians Fume Over Bank Decision To Shut Down Branches

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By Augustine Akhilomen


…Say Accessing Bank App Has Been Difficult

Nigerians on social media came out strongly against the decision of Zenith Bank to shut down some branches across the country due to fear of a possible attack from customers.

Recall that Nigerians have been going through hardships in getting their hands on the new naira notes as the February 10 deadline approaches.

This has led to attacks on some banks in the state, while states like Edo, Oyo, Ogun and Ondo have witnessed protests that degenerated into riots

Some video clips on social media showed how the bank staff escaped from the attacked branches by scaling fences to escape mob attacks from customers

Some of the bank’s branches in the FCT and environs and other states on Tuesday, were under lock.

Meanwhile, some bank customers have taken to social media to lament their ordeal.

A customer identified as @Ellacious_berry said on Twitter that Zenith Bank was fully contributing to the suffering of the masses.

“Three days now, I cannot assess the mobile app. If the mobile app mistakenly opens, it won’t transfer, and their ATM card is not paying either. I am sure closing my account with @ZenithBank,’’ she said.

Another customer, identified as @ambi 255 on Twitter, said Zenith Bank Plc had failed woefully.

“I think I will be closing my account with them,’’ he said.

A customer identified as @IamSixFeetTall on Twitter said, “one of the managers in my office just closed his zenith account this morning.’’

@shamsuden -Its a big shame that Zenith bank has decided to shut some of their branches. To access my account has been difficult.

@Iamnaija We live in a country where nothing seems to be working well at all. From fuel scarcity to Naira swap. Now Zenith has just compounded my problems.

@bullyone At this stage, i av no option than to closed down all my accounts with Zenith.

@dummyB – I am still baffle that i cant withdraw money from my account with Zenith. This bank is a scam.

Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) had called for calm and understanding among bank customers.

A statement by Akin Morakinyo, the registrar, CIBN, said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and operators (the banks) were working assiduously to bring the situation under control.

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Access Bank Introduces The “Love Is More” Campaign For Valentine Season To Celebrate Its Customers

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Access Bank customers are in for a treat this Valentine season, as the retail giant is offering several discounts and mouth-watering freebies on its retail products and services to celebrate customers in this season of love.

The Valentine season campaign, tagged “Love is More,” will run from February 1 through March 11, 2023.

Robert Giles, senior retail advisor, retail banking, Access Bank, told reporters at the campaign’s debut,

““Valentine season provides us with another opportunity to demonstrate our love and appreciation for our customers for the years of loyalty and support for the bank.

“We are using this opportunity to thank our customers for their commitment to Access Bank. We value our customers and non-customers who rely on our services and products to conduct seamless banking activities, and we wish everyone the best of this season.”

Commenting further on the campaign, Njideka Esomeju, Group Head, Consumer Banking, Access Bank, said, “In the spirit of the season of love, we have unveiled several amazing offers to appreciate our customers during this month of love. Our customers who sign up for the XclusivePlus annual plan this month of February will not only receive a 10GB of data to share great moments with loved ones but will also get a 10% discount off their total purchases on Konga.

“Small business owners (SMEs) who open a Diamond Business Advantage Account (DBA) and grow their balance to N1,000,000 (DBA Trader Lite and DBA Basic) or N5,000,000 (DBA Growing to Prestige) and perform at least 2 transactions on the AccessMore app before February 28 stand a chance to win a free business protection bundle, a gift box, or a one-month fee waiver.

“This season, when our women use their “W” branded debit card at Beacon Health Diagnostics, they will receive a 20% discount on cervical cancer screening. Ladies, you can get your “W” debit card today from any Access Bank branch close to you.

“Customers who transact five times every week this February on AccessMore or *901# will qualify to win a N500 top-up on *901# and N1000 worth of data on AccessMore. In addition, we will provide our customers with free vehicle registration when they acquire a brand-new or pre-owned vehicle from one of our registered dealers nationwide.

Our salary account holders with Access Bank are not left out, as they can access a bouquet of loan offers and enjoy a 5% interest rate reduction in the first month of the loan repayment.

“We are offering these and so much more to show how much we appreciate our customers’ consistent patronage.

To join the reward train, dial *901# or download and log onto the accessmore app to open a new account. You can also visit any Access Bank branch near you to reactivate your account, and then start transacting immediately to enjoy the Valentine season campaign benefits,” Njideka said.

Please click HERE to see more Valentine’s Day season offers from Access Bank.

Access Bank is a leading full-service financial institution operating through a network of more than 600 branches and service outlets, spanning three continents, 18 countries and 49+ million customers. The bank is committed to providing innovative and convenient banking solutions to its customers.

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ICPC Arrests Stanbic IBTC, FCMB Managers For Allegedly Hoarding CBN’s New Naira Notes

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Nigeria’s anti corruption agency, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), in continuation of its clampdown at elements frustrating efforts in making the redesigned Naira notes available to members of the public has arrested an official of one of the new generation commercial banks, Stanbic IBTC Bank, for alleged sabotage.



According to a statement signed by Mrs. Azuka Ogugua, the ICPC spokesperson, the bank official, who is the Branch Service Head of Stanbic IBTC Bank, Deidei Branch in Abuja, was taken into custody for her deliberate refusal to upload cash into the branch’s Automated Teller Machines (ATM) even when the cash was available, and people were queuing at the ATMs.


She said, “When the ICPC monitoring team stormed the bank at about 1:30pm to ensure compliance, and demanded explanation as to why all the ATMs were not dispensing cash, it was informed by the branch’s Head of Operations that the bank just got delivery of the cash.

“However, facts available to the ICPC operatives indicated that the branch took delivery of the cash around 11:58am and either willfully or maliciously refused to feed the ATMs with the cash.

“Against this backdrop, the ICPC team compelled the bank to load the ATMs with the redesigned Naira notes and ensured that they were all dispensing before arresting the culprit.

“Investigations are still ongoing, and the Commission will take appropriate actions as soon they are concluded”.

In a related case, Ogugua said, the ICPC Compliance Team in Oshogbo has busted an FCMB in Osogbo, Osun State where some ATMs were loaded with cash with their wrappers un-removed, thus preventing the cash from being dispensed.

“The Team therefore directed that the wrappers be removed, and the cash loaded properly.

“However, when a follow-up visit was undertaken the following day to ascertain the level of compliance, the Team discovered that one of the ATMs was still loaded with the wrappers un-removed.

“The Operation Manager of the Bank was arrested and taken in for questioning.

“Similarly, seven Point of Sale (POS) operators as well as a security guard were arrested during the ongoing exercise in Osun State for charging exorbitant commissions for cash. Investigations however, revealed that they got the money from Filling Stations that collect new notes from fuel buyers, but they then resell the cash to the public at exorbitant rates.

“The arrested persons are helping the Commission with information to assist investigations and bust any syndicates involved in the hoarding or sales of the redesigned notes”, she stated.

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