- The Senate passed legislation on Wednesday meant to help authorities tackle money laundering and funding for terrorism by allowing its financial intelligence unit to operate free of state control. The move is aimed at removing bureaucracy impeding investigations of financial crime and was taken under international pressure on Nigeria to crack down on endemic corruption afflicting the economy and law enforcement. The upper house adopted the bill on Wednesday, completing its passage through parliament after the lower house’s approval on Tuesday. President Muhammadu Buhari would need to sign the legislation for it to come into force, but is expected to do so. The new law makes the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit an independent body able to share information with counterparts abroad. Until now, the agency has operated under the EFCC. Parliament acted after the Egmont Group, a body of 155 Financial Intelligence Units worldwide, threatened to delist Nigeria unless its own unit gained autonomy, enabling it to deal with financial crimes more effectively.
- Power generation companies in the country have sued the FG in the Federal High Court in Abuja over alleged discriminatory practices against their interests and that of their gas suppliers. In their suit, the firms accused the government of conferring preferential treatment on Azura Power West Africa and Accugas at their own expense. The plaintiffs, Mainstream Energy Solutions, Transcorp Power, Egbin Power and North-South Power Company say the government’s discriminatory practices were taking a toll not only on the Nigerian electricity supply industry but also on the wider power sector. Joined with the FG as respondents are the CBN; the Minister of Power, Works and Housing; and Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading as well as Azura Power West Africa and Accugas. The plaintiffs claim to be facing the threat of going into extinction on account of “huge indebtedness to banks and financiers, who provided the foreign currency-denominated acquisition loans with which the power plants were acquired from the Federal Government during the privatisation exercise in 2012/13.”
- Three years after an EU ban on export of Nigerian dried beans, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation would commence a pilot export of Nigerian dried beans to Europe in April. If successful, UNIDO will officially write to the EU to inform it of the improved quality of dried Nigerian beans, certifying that it is safe for consumption. UNIDO has urged the FG to urgently approve the Nigerian National Quality Policy, which is currently at the ministerial level awaiting approval by the FEC. According to UNIDO’s Chief Technical Adviser on its National Quality Infrastructure Project, Shaukak Malik, trade restrictions were placed on Nigerian dried beans due to the high level of chemicals, pesticides and fertilisers. He added that UNIDO is in the process of developing 10 training centres in the country, with four centres located in Abuja and six in Lagos.
- SEC has extended its free e-dividend registration deadline to March 31, NAN reports, citing an anonymous senior management official. The official said that the deadline was extended in principle for the third time for the operators to clear their e-dividend backlogs. The new scheme would allow for the online payment and direct credit of dividends to investor’s bank account directly rather than by post; and is aimed at stemming the rising problem of unclaimed dividends in the capital market.
- China’s loadings of West African crude oil are set to slip to an 8-month low in March as stiff competition and shaky demand have forced sellers to look to other regions, according to a Reuters survey of vessel fixtures and traders. The loadings of just over 1.1 million barrels per day are the lowest since July last year, when loadings hit 1.04 million bpd. It is also sharply lower than the peak this year in January, when loadings hit 1.59 million bpd. The decline pulled overall West African exports 11 percent lower on the month to 1.93 million bpd. Rising exports from the United States mean those selling that country’s crude have begun targeting China, joining in competition from Middle Eastern, North Sea and West African crude. This has made keeping market share a constant challenge.
- Resort Savings & Loans, a NSE quoted mortgage bank has announced that it has executed a $250 million financing facility term sheet and a binding commitment letter with global private equity firm, Milost Global. In a notice to the bourse, the mortgage bank said the financing agreement with Milost Global is part of the terms wherein Milos will invest $250 million in the bank comprising $100 million as equity capital and $150 million as debt. The transaction, which is expected to be finalised through a private placement, is subject to NSE, SEC and CBN approval.