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No intentions to undermine SEC’s authority, Oando insists

In response to the decision by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to commence a forensic audit into the affairs of the company, Oando Plc has reiterated that its management has not taken any action to undermine the authority of the Commission.

It defended that its actions are meant to protect the interest of shareholders against loss of investment under the leadership of the erstwhile Director General (DG) SEC, Mounir Gwarzo.

According to Oando, the SEC had on Tuesday, December 5, notified the management that a forensic audit into its affairs would commence on Wednesday, December 6.

Oando, which expressed willingness to comply with the directives of the Commission, however noted that the external auditors appointed by the SEC were yet to approach it for the commencement of the audit.

“Despite our objections to the forensic audit, the Company would like to reiterate that we recognise and respect the authority of the Commission, and in the spirit of cooperation, transparency and full disclosure, the Company will comply with the directives of the Commission whilst reserving our legal rights in this matter.

“Accordingly, we welcome the appointment of Dr. Abdul Zubair as the Acting Director-General (ADG) of the SEC, and see this as an opportunity for the regulator to act independently and for a new and enduring relationship to be established. We trust that he will investigate the matters raised in an independent and transparent manner, and look forward to his support in ensuring due process is indeed followed.”

It maintained that it recognises and respects the authority of the SEC, while expressing optimism that a new and independent DG will act in its best interest and those of its 274,000 shareholders.

Oando Plc has been engaged in a legal battle with the SEC on its alleged findings and sanctions following an investigation into its activities, which began in May.

The company had gone to the Court of Appeal to challenge the SEC’s sanctions, specifically the technical suspension of its shares, and a forensic audit into its affairs.

In a press statement published on its website on Friday, Oando, in addition to the legal action, had written many petitions to various arms of government, expressing concern at the way the SEC under the leadership of Gwarzo managed the investigation, with a strong belief of bias, alleging it did not follow due process and lacked fairness.

A recent leak of the signed September 18, report of the technical committee set up by Gwarzo to investigate the company is a further proof that the Commission’s actions were illegal, invalid, and calculated to prejudice Oando’s business.

“Gwarzo set up a five-man committee to investigate the company, and on conclusion present a report with findings and recommendations for sanctions. The report shows that the committee found that Oando had satisfactorily responded to all the issues raised by the petitioners and had further recommended that the responses provided by the company and its independent external auditors be forwarded to the petitioners for their information and further escalation if they deemed it necessary.

“The report makes no recommendation for the shares of the company to be suspended or for a forensic audit of the company to be conducted; instead the Committee recommended that certain unresolved issues be forwarded to the Securities and Investment Services (SIS) department of the Commission to determine whether there was in fact a breach of the ISA or the SEC Rules.”

Furthermore, on September 27, the House of Representatives Committee on Capital Markets and Institutions, summoned Gwarzo and mandated him to complete his investigation into Oando. and issue a report within two weeks of that meeting.

“They also requested a copy of the report of the investigation, its findings and recommendations. It is interesting to note that Gwarzo failed to inform the House of Representatives that at the time the meeting was held, the signed Technical Committee report had already been submitted.

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