Sanctions: Oando Insists SEC Violates Own Rules

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Goddy Egene

Oando Plc has insisted that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) neither followed due process nor gave it fair hearing before the commission’s decision to penalise the oil firm over market infractions.

In statement pasted on the website of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) yesterday, Oando insisted that it was not accorded a fair hearing “because we simply co-operated with the process and responded to questions posed by the auditors in the course of their fieldwork for findings in a report that the company has still not seen.”

According to Oando, “ a hearing can only be said to be fair when all the parties to a dispute are given an opportunity to present their respective cases, and each side is entitled to know the details of the case/findings being made against it and is given an opportunity to reply thereto.”

The oil and gas company, therefore said it disagreed with SEC’s statement that it was given sufficient opportunity of being heard and accorded several opportunities to rebut the issues revealed by the investigation.

Oando said its disagreement is based on some facts.

For instance, it said prior to the commencement of the forensic audit the company was not afforded the same opportunity to meet with the SEC as was afforded to the petitioners, despite repeated written requests to that effect.

The first of these requests was on August 24, 2017 from the Chairman, Oba Michael Adedotun Gbadebo who wrote to the then SEC Director General (DG) saying:“We would like to request for a meeting with you, in your capacity as DG of the SEC and regulator on matters involving the securities of our company, to formally table our concerns to you and clarify any further questions that you may have in respect to the issues that we have raised in this and previous letters to the SEC.”

Oando added that during the 18 month long forensic audit exercise, the company was never given an opportunity to present its case based on the concerns or findings of the forensic auditor to the SEC.

“In the kick off meeting with Deloitte on the 29thof March 2018 they assured the company that we would be allowed to read their report on the forensic audit and give further clarification or comments on matters raised in their report. Minutes from the meeting which was shared with parties in attendance state “Deloitte concluded by repeating that the audit will be done fairly and from a factual perspective. There will be ‘no surprises’. Oando will be allowed to read their report on the Forensic Audit and give further clarification or comments on matters raised in the report.”

“In the course of Deloitte’s forensic audit exercise, the company had a second meeting with Deloitte on the 1st of November, 2018, and this was at the company’s insistence. At the said meeting Deloitte promised that on the conclusion of its audit it would hold a close out meeting with the company, however this meeting never took place.

“With the exception of the aforementioned meetings, all other engagements with both the SEC and Deloitte were via letters and emails,” the company said.

Oando added that on Monday, February 11, 2019 at Oando’s request the company’s management team met with the SEC for the purpose of getting approval for certain proposed transactions as part of our corporate strategy pending the release of the Forensic Audit.

“At the said meeting the company was assured by the Acting DG, Mary Uduk that they would call us in to defend the findings from the forensic report before making a final conclusion. A promise that she has not honored,” Oando declared.

The company also said SEC did not follow the commission’s rules as provided in Rule 599(1), which establishes the Administrative Proceedings Committee (APC).