The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has assured investors that the Commission is committed to ensuring that suspicious transactions are not allowed in the capital market.
To this end, the Acting Director-General of the SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, urged market operators to make use of the Commission’s whistleblowing policy and report any such infractions for immediate actions.
Uduk, who was reacting to questions during the two-day international capital market conference, organized by the commission, in collaboration with the Department of Finance, University of Lagos, lamented that the private placement bubble happened with the connivance of many market operators who encouraged issuers to take advantage of loopholes in the relevant investment laws at the time.
Uduk recalled several efforts and appeals to such issuers, to list their shares without success, stressing that “market operators encouraged private placements knowing that the law did not allow the SEC to regulate private companies.
“Insider trading is what we have to prove. A lot of us are in the market and we have whistleblowing mechanism. It is the operators who will be in a better position to know and report such infractions. For those that have been reported to us, we have been carrying out investigations and once we have evidence we will invite them and also refer them to the relevant authorities
“With the whistleblowing provision, we have always asked operators in the market to come to our aid if they find any unwholesome activity going on. It is our market and so we all have to do our bit. The market should not be left to us alone; you need to provide information for us to take the necessary actions.
“Anyone that is caught engaging in any activity that is against the laid down rules, be rest assured that such an operator will be made to face the full wrath of the law”.
She lamented a situation where many private companies took advantage of gaps in Nigerian laws, especially between 2007 and 2008 to defraud many investors, by embarking on private placements, with promises to list the shares for trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), when in reality they had no such intention.
She urged operators to cooperate with the commission for the good of the market and the economy, realizing that “it is our market, please let us join hands and revive this market.
“Let us come together and sanitise this market,” she stressed, urging them to bring incidences of market abuse to the attention to the commission and enjoy protection under the law,” she said.
Uduk said the SEC has been doing its best to ensure that offenders are not left off the hook, hence the Commission is collaborating with EFCC and office of attorney general to be able to do much.
The Acting DG said the Commission also has the complaints management framework that enables investors to know where to complain to and how long it takes for such complaints to be resolved and for those of the investors that are averse to risks, they are advised to get their financial advisers to tell them where to invest.
“In doing all these, we advise retail investors to invest in Collective Investment Schemes and Mutual Funds because those are managed independently by professionals and they are diversified thereby reducing risks. We also implore investors to take ownership of their investments. They have to be able to monitor their investments, attend annual general meetings as well as read the annual reports sent out to them.
“We are committed to protecting investors in the work we do. We will keep working on our rules and the possibility of amending them when the need arises, we want more transparency in the market so that investors will feel comfortable and the market can be better” she added.