Flee from Investments with Unrealistic Returns—SEC Warns Nigerians

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

For the umpteenth time, Nigerians have been warned to flee from investments that promise to offer them unrealistic returns as this will end in premium tears.

This warning was given by the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mr Lamido Yuguda, when he addressed newsmen at the end of the quarterly Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting held last week.

According to him, Ponzi schemes are known to disappoint investors and Nigerians should be very careful with them and must treat them with caution.

He described a Ponzi scheme as a fraudulent investment operation where the operator, an individual or organisation, pays returns to its investors from new capital paid to the operators by new investors, rather than from profit earned through legitimate sources.

Mr Yuguda called on Nigerians to always check the website of the commission for a list of approved capital market operators before making such investment decisions, warning the investing public against making hasty investment decisions when the returns on such investment are too attractive.

The SEC DG assured that the commission will continue to work with relevant agencies of government and other critical stakeholders in the capital market to tackle the issue of Ponzi schemes.

He urged every capital market operator to conduct their businesses within the market functions approved for it by SEC, noting that the agency will not hesitate to deal decisively with any operator who carries out any activity outside its approved function.

“The commission continues its campaign against illegal operators in the capital market, especially Ponzi schemes and has adopted multi-level engagements with media platforms and regulators of publicity agencies in order to curb the reach and activities of these illegal operators.

“While we continue our activities to resolve the complaints that have been forwarded to the commission through the official channels, it is important to reiterate to the investing public to be wary of unscrupulous schemes that promise unrealistic returns on investment.

“We will like to use this opportunity to reiterate our commitment towards zero tolerance for market infractions. We urge every capital market operator to operate within the market functions approved for it by the commission.

“The commission will not hesitate to deal decisively with any operator who carries out any activities outside the function(s) approved for it by the commission,” he said, adding that, “No capital market can grow without discipline and adherence to laid down rules and regulations.”

On the performance of the capital market, he said the committee observed that market performance has been mixed, driven largely by domestic and global economic factors, the impact and responses to the pandemic and the regulatory environment.

In line with its mandate, he said the agency has been working on some initiatives that would put the market on the path to recovery.

He explained that the commission has registered two fintech capital market operators, which include a digital fund portfolio manager and a digital sub-broker, noting that more would be registered in due course.

Mr Yuguda stated that the agency has also approved some derivative contracts, developed the regulatory framework for derivatives trading as well as rules on Interoperability of Central Securities Depositories in Nigeria.

As part of measures to deepen the commodities ecosystem, he stated that SEC held engagements with the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) towards de-risking and insuring certain commodity assets, which we believe will attract more investments within the space, particularly from the pensions industry.

A technical committee was also constituted comprising representatives of the Commission, Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON), AFEX, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) & Nigerian Commodities Exchange (NCX) to deliver agro-based standards within 3 months.

To develop an effective price discovery mechanism for the commodities ecosystem, he said a technical committee has been constituted for this purpose with the mandate of developing modalities for this exercise.

On the due date for renewal of registration, he said the registration portal has been reopened until August 31, 2021.

This, according to him, is to enable operators that are yet to update their information with the commission to do so before the end of the new deadline.

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