By Peter Egwuatu
The Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and Chairman of Transcorp Plc, Professor Ndi Okereke- Onyiuke, Monday, reacted to the query issued to her by the Securities and Exchange (SEC), to explain her involvement as chief executive officer of Transcorp Plc with regard to the list of non-performing debtors to the five banks whose shares were suspended from trading in the stock market.
Okereke-Onyiuke said she does not owe any bank any money.
Addressing operators in the market, she said, â€œThere is nothing wrong with borrowing. I donâ€™t owe any single kobo to any Nigerian bank. Not even in the world can any bank say I owe them.â€
She cautioned the stock brokers to be very careful with their transactions in the market, saying, â€œEvery Nigerian has a stake in the Nigerian banks, as the suspension of the five banks would affect the market. But Union Bank of Nigeria would be the mostly affected because more than 80 per cent of Nigerians use the bank.
â€œLet us continue with the ideas that would boost the market because everybody is a stakeholder. We were supposed to have a meeting with the new managing directors of the affected banks, but for the road show in London being arranged for them by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), we have to postpone it until further notice.â€
Regarding her involvement with Transcorp debt, Okereke-Onyiuke said the debt CBN stated was not personal but corporate.
According to her, ”Transcorp secured a loan from the bank to acquire 51 per cent interest in the Nigerian Telecommunication (NITEL) under the Federal Government privatisation programme.
“The company is willing to sell its 51 per cent stake as the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and the Federal Government are currently handling the proposed sale.
“A new core-investor is being sought, and that after the 51 per cent is disposed, Transcorp would have enough fund to easily liquidate the debt,” she added.
Last week, SEC gave Okereke-Onyiuke a seven- day ultimatum to explain her involvement in the accumulated non-performing loans in the five banks whose managing directors were sacked recently by CBN.
The commission did directed that all the affected bank managing Directors be suspended from the council of the Exchange. As a result, Dr. Erastus Akingbola who is the 2nd Vice President of the Exchange will have to step down.
In a release from the commission signed by Lanre Oloyi, Head, Media Securities & Exchange Commission, SEC said: â€œ In furtherance of its mandate of ensuring the integrity of the market, the Commission has requested the DG of the NSE to explain within seven days the circumstances under which the name of the company of which she is the Chairman appeared on the list of non-performing debtors to the five banks given the sensitivity of her position as the Chief Executive Officer of the NSE where the five banks are also listed.
â€œThe Commission has also directed that henceforth no securities of a public quoted company should be placed on technical or any other form of suspension without the prior approval of the Commission.â€
Apart from the five banks whose suspension was recently approved by the Commission, the NSE has been directed to forward to the Commission, the list of all quoted companies currently on technical suspension, for its review.
According to the statement, â€œthe Board of the Commission at its 43rd meeting held on the 19th August, 2009 noted the recent developments in the financial market and affirmed its full support of the action so far taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in sanitising the banking system and has mandated its management to intensify surveillance of the Capital Market and its Operators.
â€œIn order to give the new Management of the five affected banks time to settle down and appropriately brief the market, the Commission confirms that it had directed the NSE to place the securities of the said banks on full suspension for a period of two weeks.
â€œFurthermore, in order to protect the integrity of the Capital Market, the Commission has also directed the immediate suspension of any of the affected Executives of the five banks who are members of the Council of the NSE pending the conclusion of investigation of allegations against them by the CBN.
â€œThe Board of the commission is very concerned about the allegations of alteration in the documentation relating to the underwriting commitment in the AP Plc public offer and has mandated Management to expedite action on its investigations.â€