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Royal Exchange Group Posts N2.4m Loss

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Royal Exchange Assurance Group, one of the non-banking financial services groups has posted a loss after tax of N2.4 million for the financial year ended December 31st 2008.

This is against a profit after tax of N647.1 million recorded in 2007 which represents 476.37 per cent decline in profit.

However, the group recorded N3.36 billion premium income from its operations for the period under review a 25.37 per cent improvement on the figure of the previous year which was N2.68 billion.

Shareholders stake in the company however went down by as much as 48.99 per cent, falling from an all time high of N11.92 billion in the previous year to N6.08 billion at the end of the last accounting period.

According to the company’s annual report made available at the 40th annual general meeting of the company in Lagos last week, total assets fell by 23.61 per cent while net premium income stood at N2.60 billion, as against N2.09 billion, recorded in the previous year, a 24.40 per cent improvement.

Premium earned by the firm within the year under consideration rose by 16.59 per cent, rising from N2.17 billion, in 2007 to N2.53 billion, last year.

Also last year, Royal Exchange paid claims to the tune of N880.08 million, a 45.40 per cent improvement in the level of customer’s expectations met and surpassed. In the previous year, claims settled by the group totaled N605.30.

Underwriting profits closed at N572.10 million, a 32.49 per cent shortfall from the N847.44 million, made in 2007 while interest income went up to N94.96 million, even as its investment income fell short of its 2007 figure by 9.67 per cent, having gone down from the N571.50 million, in the previous year to N516.25 million, last year. It also improved on its other incomes by a whopping 1,433.92 percent, increasing it from N7.90 million, in 2007 to N121.18 million, last year just as it improved its earnings from stock exchange operations by 143.91 percent. This was reversed from a N14.28 million, loss position in 2007 to N6.27 million, gain last year.

Loss before taxation and exceptional items was N164.64 million,  a 21.23 percent shortfall when compared to the N775.41 million, profit recorded in the previous year.

Within the period, the group wrote off N1.37 billion, as exceptional items resulting to a N1.54 billion loss before tax which translates to a 298.50 per cent fall from the N775.41 million profit that it recorded at the close of business in 2007.

The Royal Exchange Group within the year under consideration increased its paid up share capital by 10.12 percent, moving it up from N1.68 billion, in the previous year to N1.85 billion, last year.

It also raised its contingency reserve by 22.91 percent from N445.79 million in 2007 to N547.92 million last year. While its investment properties revaluation reserve rose slightly by 1.96 per cent from N2.04 billion last year.

The group’s general reserve was significantly drawn down by as much as 314.35 per cent, having been reduced from N933.71 million in the previous year to N2 billion deficit last year.

Shareholders’ interest in the company also nose-dived; it fell by 48.99 per cent, having been drawn down from N11.92 billion in the previous year to N6.08 billion last year.

The group however increased the balance in its insurance fund by 45.68 percent, raising it from N1.27 billion in 2007 to N1.85 billion in 2008.

Short term investments went down significantly by as much as 95.88 percent as well as its long term investment by 49.92 per cent.

The group’s short term investments was reduced from N2.06 billion in the previous year to N84.77 million last year.

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Farmer Cries Out Over Cattle Invasion

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A farmer in Aluu Community in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Nwo Nna, has cried out over cattle invasion of his farmland and crops.
Nna made this known in a chat with newsmen in Aluu recently.
He said that the most worrisome aspect of the development was the neglect by the herders of the Anti-Grazing Law passed by the Rivers State House of Assembly.
The farmer who discribed such as vexatious and  provocative, appealed for intervention by relevant agencies in order to secure their future.
“I got to my  farm on Saturday morning only to see my vegetables, cassava, yam and the entire farm devastated by cows”, he said.
He  expressed regrets that his farm, which was not at the road  had experienced such  attack for the second time.
The farmer noted that it would have been a different ball game, if he had met the herders in his farm.
“The saving grace was that  I did not meet them. They should be called to order to avoid problems”, he said.
He also sought for urgent intervention of  the Rivers State Government, Myyetti Allah and other relevant authorities to warn the herders to keep off people’s farms in the interest of peace.
The farmer further explained that it was becoming a regular practice for herders to parade their cows along the roads, and such  cows  stray into farm lands and  destroy people’s means of livelihood.
While declaring that Rivers people are hospitable, the farmer warned stranger elements, who do not have respect for the laws of the land as well as terrorise other people’s means of livelihood, to take their lawlessness elsewhere.
Other farmers who also responded  called for the establishment of a system that monitors the  activities of herders.
According to them, it will enable those who take their cows into farms to be identified and adequately sanctioned in the event of any invasion by the cows.
This, they said will bring a lasting peace and as well  serve as a deterrent to others.

By: King Onunwor

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EFCC Blames Frauds In Banking Sector On Insiders

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission last Wednesday said most frauds in the banking sector were perpetrated by insider Information, Communication Technology employees.
Head, Cybercrime Section of the EFCC, Abbah Sambo, made the declaration at a national seminar on Banking and Allied Matters for judges in Abuja recently.
Sambo, who represented the EFCC Chairman, Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, at the seminar, said that most banking sector frauds handled by the commission showed that bank employees aided the acts.
He also expressed regrets at the increasing rate of cybercrime in spite of efforts by the commission to tackle it.
Sambo observed that in years past, young people involved in cybercrime were not ICT savvy, but today, it was  ICT graduates that are the champions in perpetrating the crime.
He attributed the increase in cybercrime to moral decadence and peer group influence.
“The rate at which young men are perpetrating cybercrime is seriously alarming.
“When we arrest these criminals, one major reason they give for going into the crime is peer influence.Their friends are into it and they want to run with guys that drive the best cars and have the best girls in town”, he said.
He hinted that most times when  the criminals were arrested, a lot of  assets on them,  are  registered in the names of their parents.
“Cars in the names of their mothers and houses in the names of their fathers. There is a fundamental issue relating to decay in moral coverage in the society,’’ he said.
Sambo said that the greatest challenge in fighting cybercrime was the knowledge gap, and  noted  that the criminals were getting more sophisticated.
According to him, the criminals had the ability to talk to one another seamlessly by sharing knowledge, unlike law enforcement agencies.
“A lot of the people trying to combat the crime in the field tend to lack the drive because they do not have adequate training,’’ he said.
He stressed the need for adequate sensitisation and engagement with youths, especially from secondary school level to let them know the ills of crime.
The two-day seminar was organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria in collaboration with the National Judicial Institution.

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SEC Frowns At Resurgence Of Ponzi Schemes

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The Securities and Exchange Commission has frowned upon the resurgence of Ponzi schemes and illegal fund managers in the country’s financial sector.
The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, made the observation of the development at an enlightenment workshop with the staff of the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning on in Abuja over the week.
Yuguda said  that the unlawful schemes had continued to enjoy massive patronage of the populace and remained a source of concern for regulators in the financial sector.
According to him, the commission was  poised to continue to apply measures and seek the cooperation of relevant stakeholders toward combating the activities of these Ponzi schemes.
He expressed regrets that the upsurge of the schemes had undermined the reputation of the financial markets and dampened investors’ confidence, among other things.
“SEC firmly believes that the country’s capital market can attain its potential if market operators and participants contribute their respective quotas to the growth”, he said.
He also explained that SEC was committed to always ensure and maintain an environment that was enabled by the appropriate regulatory framework, timely and affordable access to market.
“The commission is also committed to zero tolerance for infractions, heightened investor confidence and awareness, innovative product development and good governance practice”, he said
“There is the need to restore investor confidence and improve the participation of retail investors in the market.
He further pointed out that the demography of investors in the country’s capital market showed that the young population do not participate in the capital market, and only a few Nigerians invested in the capital market.
The situation, he said,  created a huge challenge to the market growth and the commission  and added that it was striving to change the narratives by instilling a fair, transparent and orderly market.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, represented by Mr Stephen Okon, Director Home Finance, urged investors to take advantage of the various initiatives in the market.

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