SEC Slams Five-year Ban on Oando Group CEO, Deputy

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*Orders company’s board to resign

By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

Having established cases of infractions of Securities and other relevant laws against Oando Plc, the Securities and Exchange (SEC) Friday took punitive and far-reaching decisions against the management and Board of the company, Among others, SEC directed all affected Board members to resign while it barred the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) and the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (DGCEO) from being directors of public companies for a period of five years.

It also directed the convening of an Extra-Ordinary General Meeting on or before July 1, 2019, to appoint new directors.

According to the SEC, these were part of measures to address identified violations in the company.

The foundation to the Commission’s hammer dates back to 2017 when it received two petitions, culminating in the commencement of investigations into the activities of Oando Plc (a company listed on the Nigerian and Johannesburg Stock Exchanges).

“Certain infractions of Securities and other relevant laws were observed. The Commission further engaged Deloitte & Touche to conduct a Forensic Audit of the activities of Oando Plc.

“The general public is hereby notified of the conclusion of the investigations of Oando Plc. The findings from the report revealed serious infractions such as false disclosures, market abuses, misstatements in financial statements, internal control failures, and corporate governance lapses stemming from poor board oversight, irregular approval of directors’ remuneration, unjustified disbursements to directors and management of the company, related party transactions not conducted at arm’s length, amongst others”.

The SEC also directed the payment of monetary penalties by the company and affected individuals and directors, and refund of improperly disbursed remuneration by the affected Board members to the company.

As required under Section 304 of the Investments and Securities Act, (ISA) 2007, the Commission said it would refer all issues with possible criminality to the appropriate criminal prosecuting authorities.

In addition, the SEC stated that other aspects of the findings would be referred to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

“The Commission is confident that with the implementation of the above directives and introduction of some remedial measures, such unwholesome practices by public companies would be significantly reduced.

“Therefore, in line with the Federal Government’s resolve to build strong institutions, Boards of public companies are enjoined to properly perform their fiduciary duties as required under extant securities laws” the statement added.

The statement said the Commission, as the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, maintains its zero tolerance to market infractions, and its commitment to ensuring the fairness, integrity, efficiency and transparency of the securities market, thereby strengthening investor protection.