7 March 2018

Nigeria: 3 Months After Gwazo's Suspension, SEC Resumes Forensic Audit of Oando

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) yesterday disclosed that it has resumed the forensic audit into the operations of a Nigeria based oil company, Oando Plc. after a Federal High Court struck out the cases impeding the probe.

This is coming barely three months after a former director-general of the commission, Mr Mounir Gwarzo, was suspended from office over allegations of corruption.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, had in November last year said Gwarzo's suspension became necessary to pave way for unhindered investigation of several allegations of financial impropriety leveled against him.

Also, following his suspension from office, the audit exercise was stopped.

But the acting director-general of SEC, Abdul Zubair, announced yesterday at a media briefing in Abuja that following the dismissal and striking out of the suits, SEC has duly informed the firm of Deloitte to proceed with the forensic audit.

Following the crisis of alleged financial misconduct by management of the company, SEC placed the shares of Oando Plc. on technical suspension and ordered a forensic audit of the affairs of Oando Plc.

Zubir said the decision to continue the audit was taken after the two lawsuits restraining the continuation of the forensic audit were struck out on Monday.

Oando PLC and some shareholders of the oil firm had in the heat of the crisis rocking the oil giant filed the two separate suits.

The suits were mainly to restrain SEC and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) from effecting a technical suspension on the shares of the company and appointing a team of forensic auditors to conduct audit of the company.

The Acting DG said, following the dismissal and striking out of the suits, SEC has duly informed the firm of Deloitte conducting the investigation, to proceed with the forensic audit.

"The commission is committed to its primary mandate of protecting investors and will take all necessary steps to fulfill that mandate and uphold the integrity of the capital market", Zubir assured during the media chart.

He also reassured the general public that following the removal of the legal impediments, "the audit of Oando Pls., will proceed in a transparent and thorough manner."

The SEC Boss also disclosed that Oando Plc. has withdrawn the pending lawsuit against the commission by an application heard and granted by the Court of Appeal on March 5.

He said the application for withdrawal by the shareholders was heard and granted by the Federal High Court on February 21.

SEC had in 2017 conducted a preliminary investigation of Oando Plc. based on a petition received from shareholders of the oil company and a whistleblower.

The Oando crisis resulted in the suspension of the former DG of SEC, Gwazo, over allegations of abuse of office and breach of civil service rules.


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