Wema Bank fined N61.4m after breaching 7 Nigerian laws

WEMA Bank found itself on the wrong side of 7 Nigerian laws in 2023, paying penalties totalling N61.350 million in one year

This was revealed in the bank’s full-year 2023 financial statement, which showed that the lender contravened a cybersecurity law, a section of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) circulars on Know Your Customers, among others.

READ ALSO: Wema Bank incurs N8bn in court cases, loses N239m to fraudsters

On the cybersecurity framework contravention, Wema Bank received a fine of N2 million, but the lender was fined N20 million for breaching Section 19(3A) of BOFIA, 2020.

Also, Wema Bank was made to pay N17.45 million for violating the CBN circulars on KYC. The bank further paid a fine of N10 million for the late rendition of final returns. The CBN circulars on KYC were targeted at reducing money laundering and other forms of financial crimes.

“There is no doubt that having sufficient information about your
customer and making use of that information is the most effective weapon against
being used to launder the proceeds of crime. In addition to minimizing the risk of
being used for illicit activities, it provides protection against fraud, reputational and
financial risks and enables individual financial institutions to recognize suspicious
activities,” the CBN says in its KYC manual.

READ ALSO: Housing deficit: Wema Bank grants only 0.36% govt mortgage loan in six months

Similarly, the bank paid a penalty of N8 million for Risk-Based Supervision (RBS) breaches. The lender was likewise penalised for a regulatory breach on the CBN clearance, paying a fine of N2 million for the contravention.

For the late filing of its 2022 audited financial statements with the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), the tier-2 lender was fined N1.9 million.

Fraud and burglary lower but still risks

Fraud and burglary are still big risks for the bank, which lost N256.387 million to them in 2023. However, this was far lower than N880.154 million lost by the bank in fraud and burglary cases in the corresponding period of 2022.

This would mean that the bank took some measures to tackle fraud and theft in 2023, said a credit risk analyst, Mr Osai Djemba.

READ ALSO: Wema Bank enjoyed CBN salary bailout for 14 years despite 239% profit increase

Mr Djemba explained that the bank “must introduce artificial intelligence measures to reduce its exposure to theft to the barest minimum,” arguing that “sophisticated thieves and several criminals have infiltrated the Nigerian financial system to steal, kill and destroy.”

Complainants demand N10.8bn

Wema Bank left 9,974 complaints unresolved by December 2023. This is lower than 13,642 unresolved complaints reported in the corresponding period of 2022.

Various customers with these complaints demanded N10.843 billion from the lender over the issues. The bank, however, refunded N11.258 billion to customers (apart from the N10.843 billion), the financial statement said.

READ ALSO: Access Bank could lose N28bn, $183m to customers as fraudsters hit again

“As a result of the initiatives stated earlier, the Bank successfully reduced the average time taken to resolve customer complaints by 60% compared to 2022, and the resolution rate increased from 93% to 98% demonstrating our commitment to improving the experience of our customers consistently and efficiently,
the bank noted.

Yakubu Ibrahim
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