Current Efforts will Resolve Unclaimed Dividends Challenge, Says SEC

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By Ndubuisi Francis

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has assured investors in the capital market that with current efforts being made, the issue of unclaimed dividends currently being declared by companies would be foreclosed.

The Head, Office of the Chief Economist of the Commission, Mr. Okey Umeano, in an interview on Channels Television, said SEC had gone very far in solving the problem of unclaimed dividends, which he said, is a major milestone.

Umeano, who stood in for the acting SEC Director General, Ms. Mary Uduk, at the interview, said: “We have engaged Nigeria Interbank Settlement System to make use of the Bank Verification Number and we have got Central Securities Clearing System and the registrars working towards reducing it and there has been a marked reduction.

“More importantly, we know that there would be no future unclaimed dividends, there would be no addition to the unclaimed dividends profile and we count that as a success.

“We believe that once we solve the identity issues that we have presently, the problem of unclaimed dividends will be a thing of the past. Also, we have continued with our education of the market, we are making more efforts towards awareness on what stakeholders need to know to make the market more attractive, make it better and protect the investors more.”

He stated that the Commission was continuing the implementation of the 10-year capital market master plan to make the market more attractive to investors.

“This year, one of the things we decided to resolve was the unclaimed dividend problems as well as regularisation of multiple accounts. On all counts, we have made a lot of strides. Next year, we are picking a few other things like derivatives trading, commodities trading ecosystem and strengthening the CIS segment of the market,” he said.

According to him, the issues around multiple subscription is still on and urged affected investors to regularise their accounts so that their shares can become active and the investors can also get the benefits of investing in the market.

“We have given some time for those affected to regularise their accounts. The stockbrokers and registrars are working on that and we believe that in no time we will identify the owners of those accounts and put them together so that those shares will become tradable again,” he said.

He stated that the elimination of dividend warrants in the market has been a major game changer and therefore urged investors to register for e-dividend to access their benefits.

“What that means is that when dividends are paid, investors no longer have to wait for warrants by post as these dividends are paid directly into their accounts. That is why we are saying that going forward, accounts without full details, that have not been updated will no longer be allowed to trade.

“This is because we do not want the legacy issues to continue, we don’t want unclaimed dividends to keep growing, we want it to be such that when dividends are paid, investors get it directly to their bank accounts. This will also help in making the market more liquid,” he added.