6 December 2017

Nigeria: Oando - SEC to Continue Forensic Audit

Lagos — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reiterated its decision to continue with the conduct a Forensic Exercise into the activities of Oando Plc following the court order setting aside the prayers of Oando to stop the process.

The commission, in a release, said it has communicated its commitment in a letter dated December 5, 2017 addressed to Oando Plc.

The clarification is coming on the heels of media reports that the rifts that triggered the suspension of the Director-General (DG) of SEC, Mr Mounir Gwarzo, by the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, last week was linked to the forensic audit of Oando Plc, which SEC commenced two months ago.

A letter circulating in the media indicated that, Adeosun had in a meeting with the SEC boss on November 27, 2017, verbally instructed Gwarzo to discontinue the Oando probe, which he apparently objected to.

Daily Trust had reported on Monday the response of Gwarzo to Adeosun highlighting the implications of discontinuing with the probe not just to the Nigerian economy, but the signal it would send to foreign investors.

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, penultimate week, struck out a case filed by Oando Plc seeking to stop SEC from conducting the forensic audit and also lift a technical suspension placed on its shares.

The presiding judge, Mohammed Aikawa, struck out the case on the grounds that the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter. He advised Oando to take its case to the Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST).

Experts had expressed fear that with the suspension of Mr Gwarzo, the investigation of the oil giant would die a natural death.

When Daily Trust sought to know if the commission will continue the forensic audit with the five firms earlier engaged, it answered in the affirmative, noting that it will proceed with its plan as earlier conceived.

SEC also confirmed that though the court advised Oando Plc to approach the Securities Tribunal, it has not received any notification from any court stopping it from proceeding with the forensic audit.

The letter of notice sent to Oando indicates that the audit will begin today, the 6th of December.

Daily Trust also discovered that Oando has filed a notice of appeal challenging the judgement of the high court. But according to SEC, the notice does not serve as an order of court restraining the commission from conducting the exercise

Effort to get Oando's spokesperson, Alero Balogun to hint at the company's next line of action did not yield result as he was said to be in a management meeting up to the time of filing this report.

A source at company however confirmed that the meeting might not be unconnected with the letter from SEC.


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