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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

FG to Make TIN Compulsory for Bank Account Holders

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Africa's Tax Revenue

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

From 2022, bank account holders in Nigeria will likely have to obtain a tax identification number (TIN) to operate as the Finance Bill sent to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari is planning to make it mandatory.

This move, according to observers, is to expand the tax net of the country in the midst of shrinking revenue and make the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) pay tax to the government.

In his lead debate on Wednesday, the Senate Leader, Mr Yahaya Abdullahi, said the bill, when passed and signed, will make financial institutions request for TIN from customers for them to operate new and existing accounts.

“Banks will be required to request for Tax Identification Number before opening bank accounts for individuals while existing account holders must provide their TIN to continue operating their accounts,” he disclosed.

According to him, “Going forward, we hope that changes to the tax laws will be on an annual basis to ensure that Nigeria’s tax system continues to evolve in line with economic conditions.”

The lawmaker further said the bill intends to make it an offence to refuse to deduct tax.

“This penalty is 10 per cent of the tax not deducted, plus interest at the prevailing monetary policy rate of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“The conditions attached to tax exemption on gratuities have been removed. Therefore gratuities are unconditionally tax exempt.

“The duties currently performed by the Joint Tax Board as relates to administering the Personal Income Tax Act will now be performed by the Federal Inland Revenue service.

“This seems to be an error in the process of amendments to replace the word “Board” as it appears in Federal Board of Inland Revenue,” Mr Abdullahi stated.

He also said the bill made electronic mails as the only channel that tax authorities would accept as a formal means of correspondence with taxpayers and concerning the late filing of Value Added Tax (VAT), the fine has been raised to N50,000 for the first month and N25,000 for subsequent months of failure.

“The penalty for failure to register for VAT is reviewed upwards to N50,000 for the first month of default and N25,000 for each subsequent month of default.

“The penalty for failure to notify FIRS of change in company address to be reviewed upwards to N50,000 for the first month of default and N25,000 for each subsequent month of default.

“This penalty also covers failure to notify FIRS of permanent cessation of trade or business.,” he said.

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Economy

Unlisted Stocks Languish in Red Zone after 0.25% Fall Wednesday

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unlisted stocks

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange extended its stay in the bearish zone on Wednesday, December 8 as the trio of FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc, NASD Plc, and Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc compounded its woes by 0.25 per cent.

FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc depreciated by N1 or 0.9 per cent at the midweek session to settle at N110.80 per share in contrast to the preceding day’s value of N111.80 per share.

It was followed by NASD Plc, which closed at N27.00 per unit compared with the previous day’s N27.15 per unit, indicating a decline of 15 kobo or 0.6 per cent.

On its part, CSCS Plc declined yesterday by 9 kobo or 0.5 per cent to close the session at N16.91 per share in contrast to N17 per share of the previous session.

The losses posted by these unlisted stocks chopped off N1.49 billion from the market capitalisation of the bourse during the session to close the day at N602.96 billion versus N604.45 billion it ended on Tuesday.

In the same vein, the NASD Unlisted Security Index (NSI) closed lower by 1.8 points to wrap the session at 729.82 points compared with 731.62 points of the previous session.

At the market on Wednesday, there was an increase in the volume of securities traded by investors and this was by 168.9 per cent as 1.9 million units of stocks exchanged hands compared with the earlier day’s 694,849 units of securities.

In the same vein, the value of shares traded at the midweek amounted to N37.9 million, which by evaluation is 72.5 per cent higher than the N22.0 million posted on Tuesday.

All these transactions were executed in 14 deals, according to data from the exchange, 12.5 per cent lower than the 16 deals carried out at the preceding day.

Food Concepts Plc closed the day as the most active stock by volume (year-to-date) for selling 11.4 billion units for N14.4 billion, Lighthouse Financial Services Plc has traded 1.1 billion for N546.2 million, while Geo Fluids Plc has sold 1.0 billion units for N700.1 million.

Also, Food Concepts Plc finished the day as the most active stock by value (year-to-date) with a turnover of 11.4 billion units worth N14.4 billion, Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group Plc, which is no longer on the platform maintained its second spot with 456.5 million units worth N9.2 billion, while the third spot was taken by VFD Group Plc with 10.4 million units valued at N3.5 billion.

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Economy

Naira Trades Flat at I&E as Bitcoin, Ethereum Fall at Crypto Market

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Ethereum

By Adedapo Adesanya

It was a stalemate between the Naira and the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (forex) market on Wednesday, December 8.

This was because, at the specialised window where investors source FX for approved needs, the local currency closed against the greenback at N415.07/$1, the same value it was sold at the previous session.

This happened despite a 51.7 per cent or $76.98 million rise in the demand for forex at the market window, as data obtained by Business Post from FMDQ Securities Exchange showed that yesterday, the turnover rose to $225.99 million from the previous day’s turnover of $149.01 million.

Also, the Naira recorded the same outcome at the interbank window of the forex market as the exchange rate of the domestic currency compared with its American counterpart remained unchanged at N411.74/$1 at the close of transactions at the midweek session.

However, the Nigerian Naira appreciated against the British Pound Sterling during the session by N2.68 to settle at N543.04/£1 versus Tuesday’s closing rate of N545.72/£1 and against the Euro, the local currency performed badly as it lost 53 kobo to trade at N474.07/€1 compared with N463.54/€1 it closed a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the scales tilted to the bullish side on aggregate at the crypto market yesterday as six of the 10 cryptocurrencies tracked by this newspaper closed on the green side.

The highest gainer was Tron (TRX) as it appreciated by 9.1 per cent to sell for N52.50, just as Dash (DASH) rose by 6.6 per cent to sell at N85,000.00, with Ripple (XRP) appreciating by 5.9 per cent to N487.19.

In addition, Binance Coin (BNB) gained 5.3 per cent to trade at N249,686.22, Litecoin (LTC) rose by 1.5 per cent to sell at N96,110.37, while Cardano (ADA) pointed north by making a 0.9 per cent gain to quote at N815.96.

On the losers’ side, Ethereum (ETH) made a 3.4 per cent slump to trade at N2,300,500.02, Bitcoin (BTC) fell by 0.9 per cent to trade at N28,330,347.37, Dogecoin (DOGE) retreated by 0.6 per cent to sell at N103.74, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) depreciated by 0.5 per cent to sell for N571.85.

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