By Chinedu Ibeabuchi and Prividence Oboh
Investors have blamed the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE), and the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), for the increasing number of complaints against the poor services and sharp practices of Registrars.
Reacting to the recent advertorial by SEC on the complaints of investors against Registrars, investors who spoke to Vanguard said that Registrars have been taking investors for granted because the regulatory authorities have not been monitoring them.
During a routine visit to some Registrars, Vanguard encountered a huge number of investors who besieged the companies for the release of their dividend warrants or processing of their share certificates. Many of the investors are aged pensioners who had invested their life savings in shares.
Though some of them commended the friendly disposition of the staff of the Registrars, they however noted that most Registrar companies are fond of delaying investors’ dividend warrants, attributing this to the failure of the regulators to protect investors’ interest.
One of the shareholders who is also a pensioner, Elder P.O Otukoya, said, “I can confidently say that NSE should be blamed for the entire problem we shareholders/investors are facing. They are supposed to be the watchdog but they see the way things are going and they kept quiet.Â For instance, some companies have closed down or have been de listed from the Stock Exchange and this information was not forwarded to shareholders. We are ignorant about it.
â€œThey keep us out of important information which we are supposed to be the first to receive.Â I don’t think NSE is monitoring everything that is going on. We have been cheated while you see the quoted companies’ directors living in luxury and we are not happy. I have been coming here almost every day, the best they can do is to give me form to fill and after that nothing happens again. There are times dividends issued are delayed.”
Lamenting further, he said, “They told us they are carrying out reconstruction on Ecobank shares, and that they will give us 1 for 4. I have about 120,000 share units and it was reconstructed to 46,000, I did not complain. But to submit it to CSCS (Central Securities and Clearing System) became a problem, then the price was pegged at N27. They delayed the submission and the registration was not placed with CSCS until the price fell to N9. Isn’t this wickedness? They are doing it deliberately, waiting for when the price would fall.
“Look at the rot Sanusi detected in the banks which should have been detected before now. Soludo was there for four years. Why couldn’t he detect this problem until Sanusi came? Sanusi has made us realise that even the very certificate we have is as good as toilet paper. These people are using our money to live and dine in luxury while we suffer the consequences of their crooked acts
“Also, Look at Costain West Africa Plc’s share price, it suddenly jumped from N7 to N70. Later, they gave a notice of rights issue which was sold at about N40. Within a twinkling of an eye, the price fell back to N5. This is absolute fraud. Similarly, whenever we attended the Intercontinental Bank AGM, the Managing Director always had handshake with us and we would be happy, not knowing that they are fooling us and busy taking the billions,” he concluded.
A shareholder met at Sterling Registrars, Mr Young Arney Daye said,
“There is delay in the services they render here. For some time now, I have been coming to this registrar to merge the two different share holdings I own in the company. I expected them to have done it by now but to no avail. I have received 2008 dividend on only one. Also, I have a problem with my share certificate that was posted to a wrong address and got lost in the process. I was told to fill an indemnity form and till date I have not gotten another one.”
Mr. BamgboseÂ IsiolaÂ lamented that for over two years he had been visiting Sterling Registrars to get his CSCS account number, “They rather prefer giving me form to fill without working on the form. They keep asking me to come back without acting on my request.”
At City Securities Limited, a shareholder, Mr Halimi Anidu said he was satisfied with the mode of operation rendered by the company.
“They are swift to responding to your needs. I applied for share certificate and when it was posted, it got lost along the way. I came back and after filling an indemnity form, I was told I would receive a new certificate here in person”, he said
Also, investors encountered at UBA Registrars and Intercontinental Registrars who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were satisfied with the services of the companies.
Two weeks ago, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), in an advertorial titled “Complaints against Registrars as at Dec 1, 2009,” announced the result of the compilation on complaints against Registrars in the capital market.
In the advertorial signed by its management, SEC said “These complaints cover issues on non receipt of share certificates, dividend warrants, return money, bonuses and miscellaneous. A total of 794 complaints stand against Registrars in the capital market as at December 1, 2009, out of which First Registrars and Afribank Registrars led the pack with 206 and 146 complaints respectively. In percentage terms, these figures translate to 25.99 per cent (First Registrars) and 18.4 per cent (Afribank Registrars) of the total complaints, thus the two jointly accounted for a total of 44.3 per cent.â€