Sunday, April 20, 2014

SEC wants speedy dispensation of cases against capital market manipulators

Published:

SEC DG, Arunma Oteh

Arunma Oteh said most Nigerians who lost fortunes to the capital market were gambling and not investing

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, has said that it is committed to the speedy conclusion of investigations into the 260 cases of fraudulent manipulation of the capital market, and insider abuses that resulted in huge losses to investors.

The capital market regulator had dragged the affected firms and individuals before the Investment and Securities Tribunal in 2010 for several infractions in the wake of the 2008 crash of the market, in an attempt to restore investor confidence.

But, speaking on Monday in Abuja at the October edition of the Commission’s “Nigeria Learning Series”, the Director General, Arunma Oteh, said it was important that the tribunal concludes its investigations into the cases to ensure that investors who suffered losses are compensated.

“When investigations were carried out around the intervening banks, we initiated actions against 260 firms and individual operators by alleging that they were fraudulent entities that investors should beware,” Ms. Oteh said. “We hope the Investment and Securities Tribunal would conclude on those investigations so that the fund that would be recovered can be used to pay investors.”

The Director General, who was reviewing efforts to restore investor confidence in the capital market, said the Commission was in the process of reviving the moribund National Investors Protection Fund, NIPF, in line with the expectations of the Investment and Securities Act, ISA, to complement its commitment to maintaining the integrity of the market.

She said the Commission, in collaboration with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, is working very hard to put the Fund into operation as soon as possible. She said an elder statesman, Gamaliel Onosode, has accepted to head the Fund.

“Trust and integrity make up the foundation of the capital market. We at SEC are very clear on the importance of integrity. And we are not only talking about it, we have taken action,” she said.

She attributed the problems that underlined the recent crisis in the country’s capital market to lack of understanding by investors about their investments, emphasizing the importance to constantly seek information and knowledge about the trends in the market.

“If one does not understand a thing about something, one should not get involved in it. People were gambling and not investing. Investing in the capital market is usually for a long time, and not when one wants to make quick money. Investors should learn to ask questions about their investments and take responsibility. Nigerians did not ask enough questions,” she said.

Ms. Oteh said in order to protect the integrity of the capital market, the Commission carried out the revision and update of its Corporate Governance Code of 2003, since April last year, pointing out that Boards of companies are expected to understand their responsibility for oversight of the company.

In line with the provisions of the code, Ms. Oteh said directors would henceforth be held liable for infractions committed by their companies, as the Boards would be made to attest to the level of compliance by their companies, to the corporate governance code, in a bid to ensure that their operations were in accordance with acceptable ethical standards.

She said about 142 out of 201 companies have already filed in their level of compliance to the provisions of the code, which includes that companies must have an audit committee.

Guest speakers, who made presentations on the theme,“Personal Finances: Securing your Financial Future”, included former Barclays Bank Regional Director (West Africa), Nimi Akinkugbe; capital market analyst, Seni Hazzan; as well as the Commission’s Deputy Director and Head of Unit Trust Division, Isyaku Tilde.

The “SEC Nigeria Learning Series” offers a forum for personnel interaction with industry experts in different aspects of the financial services industry, and wider macro economy, to enhance their knowledge and operational capacity.

 

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