The Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, yesterday, disclosed it has taken a number of measures to drastically reduce the volume of unclaimed dividends in the Nigerian capital market, adding that presently, about 2.6 million account holders have registered for electronic dividends.
In a statement in Abuja, Acting Director General of SEC, Ms Mary Uduk, noted that these 2.6 million investors were already getting their dividends promptly, adding that that the commission would continue to collaborate with relevant stakeholders to sensitise investors on the need to regularise their multiple accounts as well as claim their dividends.
Uduk lamented that the volume of unclaimed dividends was still huge but the commission is doing a lot to bring it down, especially as it had taken various steps to ensure that shareholders benefit from their investments in the capital market.
She said, "Only recently, in our determination to reduce the quantum of unclaimed dividends in the Nigerian capital market and encourage beneficiaries of deceased investors to step up efforts to claim such dividends, the commission exposed an amendment to our rules which reduced the time, processes and costs of the transmission of shares from a deceased to the beneficiary.
"The timeline for the transmission of deceased's shares has been reduced from three weeks to one week. Going by that, registrars shall ensure that shares of a deceased are transmitted within a week of receiving the request from the administrators or executors. This effort will ensure seamless transmission and claim of a deceased's shares by heirs and administrators.
"One of the things the commission has done is to encourage these people to come and regularize their accounts. As I speak about 2.6 million account holders have registered for e-dividend and many can testify that they are getting their dividends promptly."
Uduk added that it was also the quest for investors to get the benefit of their investments that prompted the commission to release a circular to shareholders of defunct Skye bank to claim all outstanding dividends.
She revealed that sensitisation efforts are going on with other stakeholders to enlighten members of the public on the need to go and claim their shares through regularisation of multiple accounts.
"If you cannot claim your shares, there is no way you will be talking about claiming your dividends," she noted.
This, she stated, would further help reduce the volume of unclaimed dividends in the market and boost investor confidence.
Uduk said the commission has also directed Cardinalstone Registrars and STL Trustees to ensure that all genuine claims of beneficiary shareholders are addressed forthwith.
The Acting Director General said since the company was no longer in operation, these unclaimed dividends had to be made available to the rightful owners that are the shareholders, as that will go a long way in boosting investor confidence in the market.
"They invested in a company and since the company has gone under, there is no reason why they should not have access to their unclaimed dividends. That is why we are calling on them to take advantage of this opportunity and claim their dividends" Uduk stated
She stated that the commission has put in place a complaint management framework to ensure that investors get attended to promptly.
"So, once you approach your registrars for your dividends to be paid and there is reason for complaints, you can always contact the commission for the issue to be resolved" she added.