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Tribunal Slams N5m Fine on Four Stockbrokers

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capital market N10b fraud

By Dipo Olowookere

Four stockbroking firms have been ordered to pay the sum of N5 million as fine for engaging in illegal transactions.

The four stockbrokers are Gosord Securities Limited, UIDC Securities Limited, Kapital Care Trust Securities Limited and Union Registrars Limited.

They were found guilty of unlawfully selling shares belonging to an investor worth millions of Naira.

The matter was brought before the Enugu arm of the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) by the affected investor, Mr Okam Kalu Ugwu.

He joined the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the apex capital market regulator, and the four firms in the suit.

Chairman of the tribunal, Mr Nosa Smart Osemwengie, while ruling on the case, ordered that all irregular transactions in the Union Bank shares variously numbering 9,740 units, 20,740 units, 13,333, units, 9, 740 units, 25,000 units, 16,000, and 12,986 units contained in different share certificates were illegal, unlawful, null and void.

The Tribunal also ordered that the 16,876 units, 5,000 units, 850 units and 2,813 units of Union Bank shares purportedly covered by four other certificates be expunged from the claim, having not been established by credible evidence.

Furthermore, the IST reached the verdict that Union Registrars Limited, UIDC Securities Limited and Gosord Securities Limited are to restore and restitute the claimant with 549,453 Union Bank shares and all bonuses and dividends in line with capital market rules, practice and procedures not later than 30 days from the date of the judgment.

According to a statement issued by the acting Director, Corporate Affairs at the IST, Mr Kenneth Ezea, Union Registrars Limited was equally ordered to restore the name of the claimant, Dr Okam Kalu Ugwu, in the register of shareholders of Union Bank Plc as relate to the disputed shares in line with capital market rules, practices and procedures not later than 30 days from the date of the judgment.

Also, all irregular transactions in the claimant’s Guinness Plc shares covered by certificate number 22279776 were also declared illegal, null and void and Union Registrars Limited (2nd Defendant) and UIDC Securities Limited (3rd Defendants) were ordered to restore and restitute the claimant with 2,083 units of Guinness Nigeria Plc with accrued bonuses and dividends, unlawfully verified, transferred and sold to third parties through their platforms not later than 30 days from the date of the judgment while Union Registrars (2nd Defendant) is to restore the name of the Claimant in the register of shareholders of Guinness Nigeria Plc.

Kapital Care Trust Securities Limited being the 5th Defendant was ordered to restore and restitute the claimant with the 72,151units of Union Bank shares and accrued bonuses and dividends it unlawfully dealt with in line with Capital Market Rules, Practice and Procedures not later than 30 days from the date of the judgment and as well fined N100,000 to be paid into the coffers of the Federal Government of Nigeria for breach of professional ethics in dealing with shares of the claimant.

In addition, the sum of N5 million was awarded as general damages against the Union Registrar Ltd, UIDC Securities Limited and Gosord Securities Ltd jointly and severally in favour of the claimant.

Restating the account of the case, Mr Osemwengie said the action was commenced by way of Originating Application filed by the claimant, Dr Okam Kalu Ugwu, a Medical Doctor, who claimed that he had over a total of 549,453 units of Union Bank shares at all material time to the commencement of the action.

He alleged that a total of 133,078 units of the shares were unlawfully verified, dematerialized and transferred to 3rd parties by some of the defendants without his authority, consent and knowledge.

The claimant alleged further that the Union Registrars Ltd joggled its shareholding such that another 416,375 units of his Union Bank shares cannot be accounted for.

He alleged further that his 2,083 units of Guinness Plc shares were also unlawfully verified, dematerialised and transferred to 3rd parties through the 2nd Defendant, Union Registrars, without his authority, consent and knowledge.

Dr Ugwu informed the court that all his share certificates were kept in his residence at Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, Abia State and that sometime on the July 30, 2007, he received a caution notice from First Registrars that some of his shares had been provided for verification.

Alarmed that he did not give any instruction on his shares, he raced to where he kept his share certificates only to discover that they had disappeared.

The claimant contended that Union Registrars did not respond to the letter written to it, rather it went ahead and dealt with the claimant’s shares.

As a follow up to the letter already sent to the 2nd Defendant, the claimant, on December 4, 2007, went to the office of the 2nd defendant to demand for details on his shareholding account. The claimant said he met one Mr Akeem who told him to produce copies of the share certificates and dividend warrant stumps to help in reconciling his account. This, the claimant said he supplied to Mr Akeem.

On December 16, 2007, the claimant wrote another letter to the 2nd defendant reiterating his previous demands for details on his accounts, but no response was given. He decided to write a letter dated April 6, 2009 asking the 2nd defendant to place a caveat on his shares.

However, the claimant was surprised to receive a letter from the 2nd defendant in December 2009 purported to have been written to him since December 30, 2008. Enclosed in the letter were purported statement of account of the shareholding with Union Bank of Nigeria Plc dated January 26, 2009 containing 71, 311 units of shares, purported dividend report and CSCS transaction on his share accounts.

The defendants even traced the theft of the share certificates to an in-law of the claimant who was a stockbroker but finding no merits in their defence the tribunal blamed them for failure to exercise caution and apply the standard know your customer precautions even when duly forewarned. They were restrained from further dealing unlawfully with the claimant’s shares.

SEC, being the 1st defendant, was exonerated from liability “From the totality of evidence before us, we do not think the 1st defendant has breached his statutory role as apex regulatory body. We therefore hold that the 1st defendant has performed its duties reasonably well.”

But SEC was directed, under its regulatory powers, to supervise, monitor and ensure compliance by the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants to the orders of the tribunal not later than 30 days from the date of this judgment.

SEC is also to ensure that shares restored and restituted to claimant are moved to the stockbroker company of his choice.

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

Naira Sells N419.02/$ at Spot Market, N615/$ at P2P

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Spot Market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira appreciated by 0.31 per cent or N1.31 against the US Dollar at the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the foreign exchange (forex) market on Friday, May 20.

At the spot market, the exchange rate of the Naira to the greenback closed at N419.02/$1 in contrast to the N420.33/$1 it was traded in the previous session.

However, at the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) window, the local currency depreciated by N1 against the American currency to trade at N616/$1 compared with the preceding day’s exchange rate of N615/$1.

Equally, at the interbank segment of the market, the Naira depreciated against the British Pound Sterling by N2.15 to trade at N518.64/£1 versus the preceding session’s N516.49/£1 and against the Euro, it slid by N1.75 to close the day at N439.23/€1 compared with N437.48/€1 of the previous day.

Meanwhile, at the cryptocurrency market, things continued to go awry for Luna backed TerraUSD (UST) as investors saw their money continually burn. The crisis-hit coin plunged further by 31.2 per cent to trade at $0.0584.

It was not a different story for other tokens tracked by Business Post yesterday, with Ripple (XRP) recording a 5.7 per cent loss to trade at $0.4094.

Solana (SOL) went down by 4.7 per cent to sell at $49.60, Bitcoin (BTC) recorded a 3.1 per cent slide to sell at $29,240.00, Ethereum (ETH) went down by 3.0 per cent to finish at $1,963.47, Dogecoin (DOGE) depreciated by 2.9 per cent to trade at $0.0841, Cardano (ADA) slipped to $0.5228 after a 1.9 per cent loss, Binance Coin (BNB) suffered a 1.8 per cent loss to settle at $303.10, Litecoin (LTC) declined by 1.5 per cent to quote at $69.27, while the US Dollar Tether (USDT) retreated by 0.03 per cent to $0.9987.

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Economy

FrieslandCampina, Capital Bancorp Chop Off N20.61bn from NASD

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FrieslandCampina

By Adedapo Adesanya  

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) plunged by 1.95 per cent on Friday, May 21 as negative price movements in FrieslandCampina WAMCO Nigeria Plc and Capital Bancorp Plc chopped off N20.61 billion from the bourse.

Consequently, the market capitalisation of the unlisted stock exchange finished at N1.04 trillion compared with the preceding session’s N1.06 trillion, while the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) decreased by 15.74 points to wrap the session at 793.05 points compared with 808.79 points recorded in the previous session.

Business Post reports that the share price of Friesland went down yesterday by N11 or 9.24 per cent to N109.00 per unit from N120.00 per unit, while Capital Bancorp dropped 11 kobo or 3.54 per cent to settle at N3.00 per share in contrast to N3.11 per share of Thursday.

However, two stocks appreciated in value during the session and were led by Niger Delta Exploration and Production (NDEP) Plc, which gained N5 or 2.7 per cent to close at N225.00 per unit versus the preceding day’s N220.00 per unit. The second price gainer was NASD Plc, which rose by 12 kobo or 0.88 per cent to N13.72 share from N13.60 per share.

A total of 9.6 million units of securities were traded by investors on the last trading session of the week, lower than the 20.0 million units of securities transacted on Thursday by 51.9 per cent.

However, the value of shares traded went up by 90.4 per cent to N46.5 million from N24.4 million and was carried out in 24 deals, 380 per cent higher than the five deals executed in the preceding day.

At the close of business, AG Mortgage Bank Plc was the most traded stock by volume on a year-to-date basis with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion. Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc maintained second place with 661.7 million units valued at N13.9 billion, while Food Concepts Plc was in third place with 134.0 million units worth N114.9 million.

The most traded by value on a year-to-date basis was still CSCS Plc with the sale of 661.7 million units for N13.9 billion, VFD Group was in second place for trading 9.4 million units worth N2.9 billion, while AG Mortgage Bank Plc in third place has exchanged 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion.

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Economy

Oil Market Bullish as Supply Risks Outweigh Demand Worries

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global oil market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The oil market was in the positive territory on Friday as a planned European Union (EU) ban on Russian energy imports and easing of COVID-19 lockdowns in China countered concerns that slowing economic growth will hurt demand.

Yesterday, the price of the Brent crude rose by 87 cents or 0.78 per cent to $112.90 per barrel while the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) grew by $1.02 or 91 cents to $113.20 per barrel.

On a week-to-date basis, Brent was up about one per cent after falling about one per cent last week while WTI was on track for its fourth consecutive weekly gain for the first time since mid-February.

Analysts noted that the Chinese reopening and continued efforts towards a Russian oil embargo by the EU swayed the market to the positive zone.

In China, Shanghai did not signal any change to its planned end of a prolonged city-wide lockdown on June 1 even though the city announced its first new COVID-19 cases outside quarantined areas in five days.

Authorities have granted approval to 864 of the city’s financial institutions to resume work on Wednesday as it gradually eases a city-wide lockdown that began seven weeks ago.

The move is part of the financial hub’s plan to reopen broadly and allow normal life to resume after the lockdown was enacted to curb China’s worst outbreak since the coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan in late 2019 and halted the most economic activity.

The EU is hoping to clinch a deal on a proposed ban on Russian crude imports which includes carve-outs for member states most dependent on Russia such as Hungary.

In Europe’s largest economy, Germany, businesses are drafting a plan to use an auction system to help ration available supplies in the event Russia cuts off its gas.

However, China added some downward pressure to oil prices this week when it clearly signalled its intent to buy more discounted Russian oil.

China and India have become the destination for Russia as it races to pivot toward Asia as the EU attempts to ditch its oil.

In the US, energy firms this week added oil and natural gas rigs for a ninth week in a row, according to the Baker Hughes rig count, as most small producers respond to high prices and prodding by the government to ramp up output.

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