Top executives of BGL Group and its subsidiaries will on Wednesday know their fate, as the Chief Magistrate Court in Wuse Zone 6, Abuja has fixed September 5 for ruling on various applications brought before it over alleged capital market fraud.
BGL Group, along with BGL Securities Limited and BGL Asset Management Limited, filed four different applications against the trial of their Group Managing Director, Albert Okumagba; his deputy, Chibundu Edozie; and three other top officials over alleged criminal conspiracy, breach of trust and cheating through their activities in the capital market.
They were arraigned in September 2017 following a petition against them to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by some investors, namely Mahmoud Usman, Ann Orsule, Sylvanus Ghasarah, Eno Efanga, UN Staff Thrift Credit Cooperative Society of Anambra State (Abuja office) and Adejoke Atte.
The petitioners had complained that Mr Okumagba and other top officials of the company failed, refused and/or neglected to liquidate their investments in both the Guaranteed Consolidated dated notes and Guaranteed Premium Notes, among others.
The SEC said the matter was brought before its Administrative Proceedings Committee (APC) in a bid to obtain justice for the complainants and grant all parties fair hearing.
In exercising its regulatory responsibility as enshrined in the Investment and Securities Act (ISA), SEC, through its APC said Messrs Okumagba, Edozie and other respondents engaged in acts capable of adversely affecting investors’ confidence in the capital market.
Consequently, in May 2016 the commission cancelled the registration of BGL Securities and BGL Assets Management, while Messrs Okumagba and Edozien were banned from capital market operations for a period of 20 years.
Also, the capital market regulator ordered Mr Okumagba’s companies to refund to investors over N2 billion for market infractions contrary to Sections 96, 312, 322 and 323 of the Penal Code Law, Chapter 89.
The companies were equally ordered to refund N24.03 million to the National Open University Staff Cooperative Multipurpose Society.
SEC stated further that the two companies would pay additional fine of N25 million for breaching Rule 1(iii) of the Code of Conduct for capital market operators.
However, following the ban, BGL Group and its subsidiaries filed the applications which centred on the First Information Report (FIR) before the court and jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter.
Following a plea by counsel to the accused, K. B. Asunogie, Chief Magistrate, Chinyere Nwecheonwu, adjourned as the matter was pending in another court challenging Mr. Edozie’s arraignment.
Mr Asunogie said when an applicant was challenging the charge, Mr Edozie’s appearance on the dock should be suspended until the preliminary objection was determined.
However, the prosecuting counsel, Moshood Adeyemi, who said he was not aware of any preliminary objection served on him, asked the court to adjourn to enable him regularise his papers and produce Mr Okumagba, who was declared at large, to face justice with others.
The magistrate, Mrs Nweoachenu, had adjourned to August 13 for ruling on these applications after arguments by the parties at the last court sitting in July 2018.
However, since the court did not sit on the adjourned date, it was subsequently adjourned to September 5 for ruling.