China Supports Africa

China will provide $60 billion in financial support to Africa, President Xi Jinping said on Monday at the opening of a major China-Africa summit.
The package includes $20 billion of credit lines; $15 billion of grants, interest-free loans and concessional loans; $10 billion for a special fund; and $5 billion to support imports from Africa.

The support will be provided in the form of government assistance as well as investment and financing by financial institutions and companies, Xi said in a speech carried live on state television.

China will also expand its imports from Africa, especially for non-resources products, and will facilitate African financial institutions’ bond issuances in China, Xi added.
Speaking to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation  on Monday in Beijing, Xi defended the global program to develop roads, railways, ports, pipelines and other trade links. China planned to exempt some African countries from interest-free loans due by the end of the year, Xi said, adding that the relief would be granted to unspecified poor and heavily indebted countries.

“We will fully honor the promises we have made to our African brothers,” Xi told the gathering. Among those present were South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
In recent months, Beijing has faced criticism about its debt practices from countries ranging from Australia to India, with even some Chinese academics airing doubts at home. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad warned against “a new version of colonialism” during a visit to Beijing last month after suspending a $20 billion Chinese-built rail project.

While Beijing-backed investment has provided African governments much-needed infrastructure without the West’s political and fiscal demands, it has also generated complaints about China’s preference for loans and reluctance to use local labor. Such concerns have grown as Xi extended his Belt and Road plan across much of the globe and tied it to his ambition of completing his country’s return to great power status.
Africa received $12 billion of Chinese lending in 2015, compared with just over $100 million in 2000, according data from the China-Africa Research Initiative. Ongoing Chinese-backed investments range from Ivory Coast power plants to a Rwandan airport to a railway in Kenya.
Africa includes some of China’s largest suppliers of oil and other commodities, and the tiny nation of Djibouti hosts its first overseas military base. Total trade between China and the continent’s nations rose 14 percent last year to $170 billion, according to Chinese data.
In his speech, Xi promised to continue what he called a “five-no” approach for African nations, including not altering developmental paths, not interfering in their affairs, not imposing China’s will, not attaching “strings” to financial assistance, and not seeking political gain.
At a business event ahead of the summit, Xi said China had “full respect for Africa’s own will” and wasn’t interested in forming an “exclusive club.”
“China’s cooperation with Africa is clearly targeted at the major bottlenecks to development,” he added. “Resources for our cooperation are not to be spent on any vanity projects, but in places where they count the most.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is attending the forum ith a retinue of aides and Ministers.
President Buhari made strong case for easier access to Chinese Visa for Nigerian students and Businessmen, to ease movement between China and West Africa.
Buhari made the requests while delivering his address at the beginning of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) holding September 3 – 4, 2018.
Speaking on behalf of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), President Buhari listed areas of needs to include “ Visa facilitation for our businessmen and women, and students who seek to visit China”
Buhari also noted that ECOWAS welcomes more of Chinese tourists to visit West Africa, “to enhance enhance people-to-people exchanges, especially now that Member States are getting involved in the Belt and Road Initiative.”
President Buhari who said the sub-region is endowed with enormous tourism potentials, added that “ with China’s support, tourism related infrastructure should be developed to empower our citizens, create more employment opportunities among the teeming population and eliminate poverty.”
Buhari reiterated the commitment of ECOWAS member States to deepening and strengthening institutions in the sub-region, through good governance, the fight against corruption, combating terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime, which he said necessary actions that must be taken “if the right conditions for sustainable economic growth in West Africa are to be achieved.”

Airtel celebrates Africa’s outstanding achievement in film, television industry

AMVCA 2018

Leading telecommunications services provider, Airtel Nigeria, on Saturday, September 1, 2018 reaffirmed its commitment to the development of Africa’s film and television industry with the sponsorship of the biggest award night for African movies, the Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA).

Speaking on its sponsorship of the AMVCA, the telco said that the creative industry is bringing about positive change in the perception of the African continent, growing recognition of talents and the rich culture of the continent’s tradition, noting that its sponsorship of the awards is also to connect Africans as well as promote and support the entertainment industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.

The sixth edition of the Airtel-sponsored Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards (AMVCA) had over 120 nominations for 27 categories, filmmakers and actors from several African countries including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria in attendance at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

East African movie 18 Hours, which tells an authentic African story was crowned the Overall Best Movie at the awards. Tatu by Akpe Ododoru and Tunde Akinniyi won the Best Lighting Designer Movie/TV Series; Okafor’s Law by Yinka Edward clinched the Best Cinematography Movies/TV series; The Bridge by Ngozi Obasi and James Bessinone won Best Costume/Designer Movie or TV Series. The Flesh Business by Dennis Wanjohi was announced as Best Documentary. Tunji Afolayan bagged the Best Art Director Award for his outstanding role in Lotanna. Best Soundtrack Movies/TV Series was won by Tatu – Evelle.

Veteran cinematographer, Tunde Kelani, emerged the winner of the 2018 Industry Merit Award while Bisola Aiyeola went home with the Trail Blazer Award. Lydia Forson won the Best Supporting Actress for her role in Isoken. Falz also bagged Best Supporting Actor for his role in New Money.

Other winners of the night include Odunlade Adekola – A Million Baby (Best Actor in a comedy); Omotola Jalade Ekeinde – Alter (Best Actress in a Drama/TV Series); Adjetey Anang – Keteke (Best Actor in a Drama Series) among others.

The AMVCA is aimed at creating, sharing value and mapping a footprint for the Africa brand.

Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards is an annual event by Multichoice and Africa Magic recognizing exceptional achievement in television and film, voted by the general public.

The night was indeed a big show of glitz and glamour as celebrities across the continent and beyond turned out in their colourful fashion style, making a bold representation of their presence.

Stock market opens September with N4b losses

Equity transactions on the floor of the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), reopened September trading on a downward note yesterday, as most highly capitalised stocks recorded price depreciation, causing market capitalisation to plunge by N4 billion.

Yesterday, the All-Share Index (NSE-ASI) declined by 10.95 absolute points, representing a decline of 0.03 per cent to close at 34,837.50 points. Also, the market capitalisation declined by N4 billion to close at N12.718 trillion.

The downturn was impacted by losses recorded in medium and large capitalised stocks, amongst which are; Guinness Nigeria, Nigerian Breweries, Flourmills Nigeria, Dangote Sugar, and Oando.

Analysts at GTI said: “We encourage investors to trade cautiously in the short term amidst continued profit-taking. However, our positive view in the medium-to-long term is hinged on the strong macro-economic outlook for the country, and the renewed interest in the Nigerian market by major economies.”

Market breadth closed with 18 gainers and 19 losers. Consolidated Hallmark Insurance recorded the highest price gain of 10 per cent to close at 33 kobo per share.

Aiico Insurance followed with a gain of 9.76 per cent to close at 90 kobo, while Continental Reinsurance appreciated by 9.49 per cent to close at N1.50 per share.
NPF Microfinance Bank rose 8.97 per cent to close at N1.58, while Wapic Insurance was up 8.33 per cent to close at 39 kobo per share.

On the other hand, Jaiz Bank led the losers’ chart by 10 per cent, to close at 45 kobo per share. Flourmills Nigeria followed with a decline of 9.67 per cent to close at N21.95 per share.

Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp) depreciated by 7.94 per cent to close at N1.16, per share. Prestige Assurance declined 7.69 per cent to close at 48 kobo, and Veritas Kapital Assurance shed 6.90 per cent to close at 27 kobo per share.

Also, total volume traded fell by 65.8 per cent to 131.53 million shares worth N3.13 billion, traded in 3,080 deals. Transactions in the shares of Nigerian Breweries topped the activity chart with 19.13 million shares valued at N1.82 billion.

StanbicIBTC Holdings followed with 11.81 million shares worth N556.59 million, while Aiico Insurance traded 11.24 million shares valued at N10.1 million.

United Bank for Africa (UBA) traded 10.75 million shares at N86.15 million, while NEM Insurance transacted 7.27 million shares worth N24.6 million.

Lafarge Africa plans EGM, seeks shareholders’ nod to raise N90b fresh fund

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The board of Lafarge Africa Plc, on Monday, wrote the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), announcing plans for an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting (EGM), on September 25, 2018, in Lagos, to authorise the directors to raise up to N90billion in fresh capital by way of rights to existing shareholders.

The company will also seek approval “to apply any convertible loan, shareholder loan or any other loan facility due to any person, from the company, as may be agreed by the person and the company, towards payment for any shares or rights subscribed for in the rights issue.”

The shareholders had at the 59th yearly general meeting on May 16, approved the raising of up to N100billion additional capital, subject to the approval of relevant regulatory authorities.

According to the notice signed by the Company Secretary, Mrs. Adewunmi Alode, shareholders at the EGM will also vote on special resolutions.

These include the increase of the authorised share capital of Lafarge Africa from N5billion to N10billion “by the creation of 10 billion additional ordinary shares of 50kobo each, ranking pari passu in all respect with the existing ordinary shares of the company.”

Lafarge explained that the restructuring is aimed at improving its leverage position, its industrial operations as well as strengthening its profitability.

The company also noted that reforms implemented by the firm to improve operational efficiency both in Nigeria, and South Africa, as well as effective management of its borrowing costs have impacted its performance as the Nigerian operations posted a profit of N1.9billion.

Lafarge reported a profit of N1.9billion in its Nigeria operation for the second quarter (Q2) of 2018.

Strong market growth in Nigeria within the period reflected the end of the recession in the cement market.

It attributed the success in Nigerian operations to operational stability, success of the turnaround plan implementation and volume improvement.

“Strong sales in Nigeria increased volumes in Q2 2018 by 18.7% (inclusive of export) and 9.6% in ReadyMix. In total, 68 kilotons of cement have been exported to Ghana with 28kt shipped in Q2 2018.”

UBA’s Leo launched on WhatsApp

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Pan-African financial institution, United Bank for Africa (UBA) has announced the commencement of its chat bank ‘Leo’ on the WhatsApp platform.

With Leo on WhatsApp, customers who are users and lovers of the app can now can perform basic banking services including checking their balances on the go, transferring funds, paying bills, among other services.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, UBA, Mr. Kennedy Uzoka, who expressed excitement about the development remarked that the bank is continuously working in line with customers’ demand to ensure that banking services are made convenient and without stress.

He said: “This only goes to show that our resolve in continuing to deploy innovative solutions that place customers first, using cutting edge technology for their collective satisfaction and excellent banking experience is important to us. This recognition will further spur us to do more in meeting the needs of our customers with unrivalled services.”

“Our recent launch of Leo in 13 other African countries is evidence that UBA has on its agenda, the objective of digital creativity especially in service for our trusted customer base across the African continent.”

Also speaking on the new service, the Group Head of UBA’s Online Banking, Mr Austine Abolusoro, stated “United Bank for Africa is a technology-driven institution with vast knowledge in the business that we do and Leo, being a tested dependable and intelligent personality, will replicate on WhatsApp, the success it has experienced on the Facebook Messenger platform.  It is a solution that is from the customer’s standpoint, easy to use by anyone regardless of your demography.” “Leo is ready and waiting to help with any form of banking services,” continued Abolusoro.

WhatsApp has been in existence for over 9 years, reaching more than 1.5 billion people in over 180 countries. The premium private chat platform has assured that there will be no spam messages as the development is to enable businesses serve their customers with useful and helpful information.

Security experts warn FG on rising online breaches

Task President Buhari on Electronic Transaction Bill
Cyber Security experts have called on the Federal Government not to treat the rising cyber security breaches in the country with levity.

The Cyber Security Expert Associations of Nigeria (CSEAN), called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to among others; urgently assent to the Electronic Transaction Bill, which has been passed by the Senate since May 2017.

Speaking at the Cyber Security Meetup in Lagos, the President of CSEAN,  Remi Afon, explained that the Bill, which has been sitting on the President’s desk for over a year, will protect Nigerians in their financial transactions when finally sign into law.

Afon, who equally urged the Senate to pass the Data Privacy Bill, noted that apart from protecting the majority of Nigerians in their financial dealings, the bill will also protect the banks and their infrastructure, as they can leverage it to prosecute cases and make claims.

“As an advocacy group, we are calling on the President to assent to the Electronic Transaction Bill, as it will provide a legal and regulatory framework for conducting transactions using electronic or related media, and for the protection of the rights of consumers, including the facilitation of electronic commerce in Nigeria,” said Afon.

The Electronic Transaction Bill seeks to provide a legal and regulatory structure for conducting transactions using electronic or related media, and for the protection of the rights of consumers including the facilitation of electronic commerce in Nigeria.

On increasing cyber breaches, he said: “We’re still going to see a lot of that now, there’s been a lot of advancement in terms of hacking, the threats aren’t going to come from within Nigeria alone, but from outside,” he stated.

Other speakers at the event pointed out that in as much as Nigeria has many legislation on data protection and cyber security, but there is still no proper framework for the protection of individuals in the country in the online cyber space.

One of the speakers, Oluseye Banjoko, who recommended that the country adopts an independent advisory authority to oversee, monitor and enforce compliance to data protection laws, also reiterated the need for a body to oversee the Nigerian cyber space.

This is just as Afon warned that failure to enact and enforce data protection and cyber security laws would be detrimental, pointing to the Cambridge analytica & Facebook scandal, where millions of user data were harvested worldwide, including Nigerian, and used for different political activities.

He noted that Nigeria always waited for an incident to happen before actions are taken. “The government really needs to hold the bull by the horn. Everybody, including the banks is feeling the impact of cybercrime, but the government has not really taken steps to secure the country cyber space is secured,” he added.

Forex irregularities scare marketers off kerosene importation

Oil marketers in Nigeria are still reluctant to resume the importation of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK), after abandoning the venture for over two years on the grounds of unprofitability.

The marketers complained that access to foreign exchange (forex) for the importation of DPK is marred by irregularities.

Two years after the Federal Government removed subsidy on the product, marketers discontinued their participation in the product’s importation amid prevailing demand from households, and largely the aviation sector.

Kerosene is being imported and sourced from local refineries by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) solely, and sold to marketers at a deregulated ex-depot price of about N190 per litre. But the supply of the product has continued to be epileptic, and characterised by price differentials.

Given the rising demand for the product as aviation fuel, some households that depend on the product, pay as high as N350 per litre to get it for domestic use.

Responding to queries from The Guardian on the position of marketers, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), disclosed that marketers are facing challenges in the importation other petroleum products, and not just DPK.

MOMAN said: “In the current environment, marketers are facing challenges with respect to importation of all products whether deregulated or not, because of challenges in accessing foreign exchange at competitive rates.

“NNPC sells Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) to marketers at an ex-depot price of N190 per litre. If marketers were to import the product using their (marketers) importation template, the landing cost would be N225 per litre due to the rate at which we access foreign exchange.
“The full benefits of competitive importation and full price deregulation can only be felt in an environment where all importers have equal access to foreign exchange at the same competitive rates.”

The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association (DAPMAN), and other marketers, said they stayed away from kerosene importation because of outstanding subsidy arrears being owed by the Government.

According to the World Bank, over 51 per cent of Nigerians reside in the rural area, and depend on kerosene to cook or light their homes or opt for firewood due to the high cost of the product. While the figure of people cooking with firewood or charcoal rises, the World Health Organisation (WHO), reported that over 470,000 Nigerians have died in the past five years from firewood induced sicknesses.

A report published by a Non-Governmental Organisation, Power for All, noted that over 66 per cent of households in Nigeria use kerosene for lighting and cooking, while the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS), put the proportional use of kerosene by Nigerian households at 22.8 per cent for cooking, and 57.8 per cent for lighting, mostly by the rural and peri-urban poor.

Taofeek Lawal, the spokesperson for Nipco Plc, the marketing and distribution joint venture company of IPMAN, in a telephone interview, said although the DPK market is perceived to be deregulated, but realities have shown that it is partially deregulated.
Citing the Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) market, which is fully deregulated, he noted if the DPK market was equally deregulated fully, the behaviour of both markets would be similar.

On account of deregulation, the DPK market had seen some level of volatility in price and supply templates at the retail end.
Some marketers that still receive kerosene stock from NNPC, say compared to Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and AGO, turnover for DPK had remained the worst, while margins on the product has been discouraging.

One marketer that spoke in confidence, said: “After AGO was deregulated, no marketer waits for NNPC for supply despite the fact that NNPC also imports AGO. Marketers go on to import and sell at prices they deem fit. But for DPK, marketers still wait for NNPC’s stock after years of perceived deregulation. That means something is actually wrong with DPK deregulation in Nigeria.”

The National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mr. Mike Osatuyi, said currently, members of the Association are not importing DPK, but insisted that the DPK market was fully deregulated.

According to him, any IPMAN member can bring in DPK after getting the necessary approvals from the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA).

Osatuyi said, “We will start importing DPK when the coast is clear. By this, I mean when we are through with our internal reorganisation. But I must say the demand for the product is dropping, as people are switching over to Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

“Because we believe the market is fully deregulated, I don’t think we will have any issue with foreign exchange when it is time to import.”

When contacted, the Executive Secretary, DAPPMA, Mr. Femi Adewole, declined to comment. But The Guardian gathered from a member of the Association that forex constraint is a major constraint to kerosene importation.

The source said members who currently deal on the product, concentrate on the supplying to the aviation sector, adding that the margin from selling the product to households is not attractive, and as such not leveraged by marketers.

Over 300 pensioners sent home at PTAD’s stakeholders’ forum

Over 300 pensioners, who came for the second Interactive Stakeholders Forum, organised by the Pension Transition Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), for federal pensioners in the South West Zone, under the Defined Benefit Scheme (DBS), have cried foul over the treatment meted out to them, as they were denied access into the conference hall.

Even journalists were not spared from the bad treatment by the organisers, as The Guardian staff was visibly rough-handled and prevented from entering the hall.

The event, which held in Lagos, was meant to identify and tackle critical issues, as they affect pension administration in Nigeria under the DBS, had attracted many stakeholders in the pensions industry from different states in the South West Zone of Nigeria.

Unfortunately, many pensioners, who travelled from far and wide to attend the event, with hopes of getting solutions to their problems, got disappointed, as they were rejected and left loitering at the venue of the event.

According to an announcement by PTAD, also published in some of the dailies, pensioners, who wished to be part of the forum, were advised to register online via info@ptad.gov.ng, or to visit their Lagos office or to call 09072313176 and 07060443118.

However, lamenting his ordeal in the hands of PTAD, Comrade Oladigboye G.O., who claimed to be the Secretary, Electricity Sector Pensioners, Ibadan Chapter, when sighted sitting helplessly at a corner outside the venue, told The Guardian that he had registered online as directed, but was still denied access into the conference hall.

He said: “I came from Oyo State, lodged in a hotel close to the venue, and I came here before 8.am, only for them to say that my registration was not okay with them, and that I should go home, just like that!

“I have been to their office severally for my issues to be resolved, and nothing was done. They just came here to do a jamboree. The people outside are almost more than those inside.
“The treatment they gave to pensioners is most unfair. So many people came from outside Lagos, and yet it did not make any difference to them.”

Also, Oluwoye Olamide, who claimed he retired from the Office of Head of Service, Establishment Pensioners, said he registered through one of the phone numbers provided by PTAD.

“I was refused access to the hall on the excuse that the hall was already full after I registered through one of the phone numbers provided, but they already knew the capacity of the hall and the number of people they were expecting.

“Most of the complaints affecting pension administration and management in Nigeria is as a result of the ignorance of PTAD officers. Most of them don’t know anything about public sector pension management.”

Another visibly angry pensioner, who simply identified himself as the Chairman, the University of Ibadan Pension Union, said he was not allowed to enter the conference hall despite coming from a far distance.

Efforts by The Guardian to reach PTAD to know the reason for the large number of pensioners outside the conference hall, were futile, as security agents hired by the organisers violently denied The Guardian access into the hall.

The security agents also stooped The Guardian from speaking to more pensioners within the premises, as was directed by PTAD.

Oil prices jump as Gulf of Mexico rigs evacuated

U.S. light crude rose $1.60 a barrel from Friday’s close to a peak of $71.40, its highest since mid-July, before easing slightly to around $71.30 by 1050 GMT. U.S. markets were closed on Monday for Labor Day.

Benchmark Brent crude, which traded on Monday, was up $1.45 at $79.60 a barrel.

Anadarko Petroleum Corp said on Monday it had evacuated and shut production at two oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico ahead of the approach of Gordon, which is expected to come ashore as a hurricane.

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Global oil markets have tightened over the last month, pushing up Brent prices by more than 10 percent since the middle of August. Investors anticipate less supply from Iran as U.S. sanctions on Tehran begin to bite.

“With ship-tracking data now pointing at a reduction in Iranian exports, renewed strife in Libya, and Venezuelan export availability hobbled by an accident at the key Jose terminal, the list of bullish headlines is getting longer,” said Michael Dei-Michei, head of research at Vienna consultancy JBC Energy.

Barclays bank said on Tuesday oil markets had changed since 2017, when worries about rising supply were more evident.

“U.S. producers are resisting temptation and exercising capital discipline, OPEC and Russia have convinced market participants they are managing the supply of over half of global production, the U.S. is using sanctions more actively, and several key OPEC producers are at risk of being failed states,” Barclays said.

“Prices could reach $80 and higher in the short term,” Barclays said. For 2020, it said it expected Brent to average $75 a barrel, up from its previous forecast of $55.

Harry Tchilinguirian, oil strategist at BNP Paribas, struck a similar tone, warning of “supply issues” into 2019.

“Crude oil export losses from Iran due to U.S. sanctions, production decline in Venezuela and episodic outages in Libya are unlikely to be offset entirely by corresponding rises in OPEC+ production,” Tchilinguirian said.

BNP Paribas expects Brent to average $79 in 2019.

While U.S. sanctions are forcing many Western companies to cease trading with Tehran, two of its biggest customers have said they will continue to buy Iranian crude.

India will allow state refiners to import Iranian oil if Tehran arranges and insures tankers. And Chinese buyers are shifting most of their Iranian oil imports to vessels owned by National Iranian Tanker Co.

ING fined €775m for lax crime prevention

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Dutch bank ING has agreed to pay fines and other payments of €775m ($897m; £698m) after admitting errors in its policies to stop financial crime.

The bank said it regretted that its mistakes had let some customers use their accounts for things such as money laundering between 2010 and 2016.

ING chief executive Ralph Hamers said the bank took “full responsibility”.

He said the bank’s operations must “meet the highest standards” and that not doing so was “unacceptable”.

Vincent van den Boogert, chief executive of ING in the Netherlands, said it was “taking a number of robust measures to strengthen our compliance risk management”.

‘Collective shortcomings’

An investigation by Dutch authorities found no evidence that any ING staff had helped customers who may have used banking services for potential criminal activities.

It ruled that the errors were not down to individuals, but more the fault of “collective shortcomings at all responsible management levels”.

Despite this, ING has started measures against a number of former senior employees, including holding back some of their financial packages.

In a statement, Dutch prosecutors said: “Clients for years were able to make use of ING bank accounts for criminal activities pretty much undisturbed.

“ING should have seen that the money streams that ran through those bank accounts possibly were coming from crime.”

The bank was fined €675m and also ordered to pay another €100m for disgorgement, to make up for not spending enough on staffing in the six-year period.