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Economy

Tribunal Orders Stockbroker to Pay Investor N3m Damages

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Tribunal Orders Stockbroker to Pay Investor N3m Damages

By Dipo Olowookere

Meristem Securities Limited has been directed by the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST) in Abuja to pay the sum of N3 million as damages to an investor, Mr Steven Guar.

The fine was the stockbroker’s misconduct, which forced the capital market investor to incur some losses and hardship.

In his ruling, Mr Jude Ike Udunni, who presided over the tribunal, held that evidence showed that Meristem Securities Limited failed to discharge the duty of care required of it to the investor who is its client.

He further ordered the company to take immediate steps to ensure that all shares, dividends, and bonuses accrued and still outstanding to the applicant be credited to his CSCS account.

Mr Guar had filed a suit against Meristem Securities Limited and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

He claimed that the share certificates he deposited with the company for verification and dematerialisation in 2008 was lost by Meristem Securities Limited, but was only informed about the loss in 2014.

According to him, he read about the loss in 2014 from the company’s reply to a regulatory query from SEC, where they claimed his share certificates were lost in transit between their Kaduna and Lagos offices.

The applicant also complained that Meristem Securities Limited failed to account for the whereabouts of another 50,000 units of Access Bank Plc shares he bought through it in an Initial Public Offer (IPO) in 2004.

According to the particulars of the case, Mr Guar sometime in 2004 bought 50,000 units of Access Bank Plc shares through Meristem Securities Limited and gave his office address as Jos, Plateau State.

From that time, he did not hear anything again about the shares allocation/allotment nor was a share certificate delivered to him until 2012 when he accidentally received a dividend bonus certificate issued on the shares in 2008.

He, thereafter, made inquiries and got to know that his address on the shares subscription form was changed to another address in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The address in Lagos belonging to the company was where his dividends, bonuses and letters were channelled. He demanded from the company the original certificate of the shares as well as the other bonuses and dividends that had accrued which they failed to oblige.

Also, in 2008, the applicant in another separate transaction travelled to the Kaduna Office branch of the company and handed them various share certificates of different companies in which he held shares to take to the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) in Lagos to verify, dematerialise and credit into his account only for the company to fail to account for the whereabouts of those other share certificates.

Mr Guar, after failing to resolve the issues even with the intervention of SEC, approached the Tribunal seeking eight declarative remedies including an order that he was entitled to know the whereabouts of his share certificates; that the certificates be returned to him and that the withholding of dividends accrued from his 50,000 units of shares till date was illegal.

He also sought an order to compel SEC to direct Meristem Securities to regularise documentation of his shares with his Registrar and consolidate his accrued dividends, bonuses and interests, among others.

But in its defence, Meristem Securities Limited informed the Tribunal that the share certificates were lost in transit between their Kaduna and Lagos offices.

On the entry of a wrong address in his offer application form and incorrect routing of his letters to their Lagos office which kept him in the shadows, the company denied responsibility arguing that Registrars were responsible for custody of addresses and dispatch of mails.

Meristem also argued that though the certificates were lost, the client’s shares were still intact. However, the client proved before the Tribunal how the value of the shares eroded drastically during the market tumble that took place.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

FBN Holdings to Take Over Access Bank’s Pension Fund Custodian Business

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First Pension Custodian Access Pension Fund Custodian

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A Nigerian financial group, FBN Holdings Plc, has taken another step to enhance its earnings by acquiring the pension fund custodian business of Access Bank Plc.

FBN Holdings is making this acquisition possible through one of its subsidiaries, First Pension Custodian, and it involves the total control of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited.

A notice from both organisations disclosed that the transaction involves the transfer of a 100 per cent stake of Access Bank in the pension fund business to FBN Pension.

At the moment, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Pension Commission (PenCom), the two key regulators of the two transacting companies, have given a “no objection” to the deal.

However, the sale is yet to be finalised as approvals of other regulatory agencies are being awaited.

“FBN Holdings Plc wishes to notify the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited and the investing public that First Pension Custodian, a subsidiary of FBNH’s flagship subsidiary, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, has entered into a definitive agreement with Access Bank Plc for the planned acquisition by First Pension of 100 per cent share capital of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited held by Access Bank Plc.

“The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the National Pension Commission (PenCom) have given their ‘no objection’ to the transaction, with completion subject to the receipt of all required regulatory approvals,” a disclosure from FBN Holdings signed by Adewale Arogundade, the acting company secretary, said.

On its part, Access Holdings Plc said it “announces today that its subsidiary, Access Bank Plc, has entered into a definitive agreement with First Pension Custodian Nigeria Limited regarding a proposed purchase by First Pension of the entire share capital of Access Pension Fund Custodian Limited held by Access Bank.

“The National Pension Commission and the Central Bank of Nigeria have given their ‘no objection’ to the transaction,” Mr Sunday Ekwochi, the company secretary, disclosed.

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Economy

CBN Laments Failure of Oyo Farmers to Repay Agric Loans

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tomato farmers in Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has lamented that the majority of farmers who benefited from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) in Oyo State have not repaid their loans.

This call was made by Mr Sadeeq Ajayi, a CBN Development Finance Office in Ibadan at the Agribusiness Innovation Clinic.

He appealed to farmers who defaulted in paying back the agric loans to pay back, saying that the inability of the apex bank to recover the loans from the defaulting farmers had threatened the scheme, adding that it has prevented other farmers from accessing the facility.

The CBN official made the call at a clinic entitled Fostering Innovation and Collaboration Across the Agricultural Value Chain organised by the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN).

ABP is an agricultural loan scheme launched in 2015 by the federal government, through CBN, to provide loans (in kind and cash) to smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production, create jobs, reduce food import bills toward conservation of the foreign reserves.

“While the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme has recorded some level of success, the failure of farmers to repay the loans has, however, been a major setback.

“Many of the farmers refused to pay back their loans due to the misconception that since CBN is the lender, the loan is a ‘national cake’ and they do not have to pay back what they consider theirs as citizens.

“This attitude has made it difficult for other farmers, who also want to access the loan, to benefit from the scheme,” he said.

Mr Ajayi said that stakeholders, including the traditional rulers, should appeal to the defaulting farmers to promptly repay the loans for the sake of others.

“Of course, we are engaging various stakeholders and we expect the narrative to change very soon so that more people can have access to the fund,” he said.

In his keynote address, Mr Olasukanmi Olaleye, the Oyo State Commissioner for Trade, Industry, Investment and Cooperatives, lauded the initiative of GAIN to tackle malnutrition in the country.

Mr Olaleye, represented by Mr Mukaila Oladipo, a Deputy Director in the ministry, said that food fortification is one of the safest, most effective and affordable ways of addressing the micronutrient gaps in the country.

Also, Mr Godwin Ehiabhi, a Senior Project Manager, GAIN Nigeria, said that improved access to safe and nutritious food would reduce the country’s high rate of malnutrition.

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Economy

Seplat Will Continue to Expand Under Guidance of Omiyi, Okeahalam—CEO

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Basil-Omiyi Adoption of Clean Energy

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The chief executive officer of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Roger Brown, has expressed his desire to work with the company’s new Independent Non-Executive Chairman, Mr Basil Omiyi, and the new Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, Mr Charles Okeahalam.

The appointment of Mr Omiyi followed the stepping down of the founders of Seplat Energy Mr ABC Orjiako and Mr Austin Avuru, from the board.

While commenting on the development, Mr Brown said he was excited with the appointments, especially with the transition into the next chapter of the firm.

“Mr Basil Omiyi has been a leading figure in the Nigerian oil and gas sector and also with Seplat Energy, having joined its Board in 2013 and helped it to achieve a dual listing in April 2014. The vast depth of experience and his detailed knowledge of Seplat Energy will be invaluable as we continue to evolve and mature the company.

“He has provided invaluable guidance as an Independent Director and I look forward to his continued leadership as our new Independent Non-Executive Chairman.

“We will also benefit from the considerable expertise of Dr Charles Okeahalam as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director, especially his experience and knowledge of Africa’s economies and its financial markets.

“Under their guidance, we will continue to expand and consolidate our position as Nigeria’s leading energy company and the partner of choice to deliver energy transition for Africa’s largest economy and its rapidly growing population,” he said.

Mr Omiyi has been a member of Seplat Energy’s Board of Directors since March 2013 and as Senior Independent Non-Executive Director from February 1, 2021. During this period, he sat on the company’s Remuneration, Nominations & Governance, Energy Transition, and Risk Management & HSSE committees.

His experience in the energy industry is extensive, with more than 40 years at Royal Dutch Shell, during which time he held senior roles in Nigeria and Europe, including becoming Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria in 2004 and in addition, Country Chairman of Shell Companies, Nigeria, until his retirement in 2009.

Mr Omiyi has held several leadership positions in the Nigerian oil and gas industry, including Chairman, Upstream Industry Group (Oil Producers Trade Section, Lagos Chambers of Commerce & Industry) from 2007-2010; Chairman of the Energy Sector of NEPAD Business Group, Nigeria, and Board Member NEPAD Business Group, Nigeria from 2005-2010; Chairman, of the Oil & Gas Commission of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group from 2005-2010; and Board Member, Nigerian Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI) 2007-2010. Mr Omiyi is also the Independent Non-Executive Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, a subsidiary of Standard Bank Group, a post he has held since 2015.

In 2011, he was awarded the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger for pioneering leadership in Nigeria’s oil and gas sector.

On his part, Mr Okeahalam joined the Board in March 2013 as an Independent Non-Executive Director and is Chairman of Seplat Energy’s Finance Committee, and a member of the Energy Transition, Remuneration, and Nominations & Governance committees.

He has extensive corporate finance and capital markets expertise and in particular, detailed knowledge of African financial markets, economies and the investment industry. He was a co-founder of AGH Capital Group, a private equity and diversified investment holding company based in Johannesburg, with assets in several African countries.

Prior to co-founding AGH Capital Group in 2002, he was a Professor of Financial Economics and Banking at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. His other roles have included advising a number of African central banks and government ministries, the World Bank and the United Nations.

He has held several board positions and is a former non-executive chairman of Heritage Bank Limited, Nigeria. Since March 2016 he has served as the non-executive chairman of the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company.

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