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House of Reps to probe unclaimed dividends

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The House of Representatives, Wednesday, directed its Committee on Capital Market and other institutions to investigate the high volume of unclaimed dividends in quoted companies in Nigeria.

The committee is expected to report back to the House within four weeks. The resolution was sequel to a motion by Rep. Akpan Umoh (PDP-Akwa Ibom ). Leading the debate on the motion, Umoh said the alleged unclaimed dividends, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), amounted to about N40 billion.

He also referred to a story in a national daily which reported that Vitafoam recorded N148 million unclaimed dividends for 2011 while that of 2010 was N149 million.

The implication of the revelation, he added, was that in the last two years, Vitafoam “alone has accumulated N297 million of unclaimed dividends.”

Umoh said that dividend warrants from majority of quoted companies in Nigeria got to the shareholders days after they had expired.

“Also according to SEC, there is still some controversy surrounding the payment of dividends into the savings accounts of the shareholders.’’

Umoh added , “it has become a deliberate sharp practice or manipulation by quoted companies to have their cheques delayed in order to generate a pool of unclaimed dividends.’’ He urged the relevant committee to investigate the matter.

Rep. Emmanuel Jime (PDP-Benue), in his contribution in support of the motion, said that “the motion boils down to the committee to investigate this matter”.

Rep. Uche Ekwunife (APGA-Anambra) observed that most Nigerians were no longer interested in investing in the capital market due to the prevailing situation in that sector of the economy.

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