By William Jimoh
The Investments and Securities Tribunal, IST, is the body established by the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to deal with the various cases of breach of trust and other fraudulent acts that investors often encounter while operating in the capital market. The body according to its Director General, Dr Ngozi Chianakwalam, recently said they were able to resolve about 23 cases last year. In this interview, some shareholders spoke with Vanguard Investors’ Forum on the Tribunal’s performance. Excerpts:
Pastor Williams Adebayo:
The IST is not doing less than what is expected of them because to establish and to get to a satisfactory conclusion of cases require a lot of underground fact-finding. Take for instance, in a situation where you have a shareholder’s stock that was stolen, owing to the fact that the shareholder had passed away and some people who may not be entitled to these stocks may find the share certificates or through interception of the mail through which the dividend was being posted, some funny Nigerians may have access to the information and they will go and open a bank account for such a stock and begin to get another man’s business dividend.
Another case is because we have some wealthy Nigerians who have stocks before they died and their children could not realize on time that their father had such an investment. So anybody that has the market understanding and comes across such stocks, realizing that the late had plenty stock, might cleverly go and open an account for it and begin to divert all the dividend payable to that late shareholder into such an account.
And these are some of the cases that make it necessary for the tribunal to go all the way through the case to ensure that they bring to the fore all the facts that surrounds each matter.
Also, in some other cases you find some unscrupulous operators in the system selling stocks of some wealthy Nigerians.
You know some people are so wealthy that they hardly touch their stocks and if some funny operators see this opportunity and realize that for the stock they are about to sell the company might not issue bonus; and knowing this, when the price goes up, they deliberately sell those stocks and when the price comes down, they buy into it.
There are many ways in which operators play these dubious acts. And I believe that the tribunal is going a long way to ensure serenity in the system while they are saving shareholders’ fund and fortune from being eroded into fraudsters’ hands.
Though some may think that their proceedings take long time, I think that whichever way you may want to look at it, they are recording success, most especially with the introduction of CSCS which has further made it very difficult for anybody to sell stocks without prior knowledge of the owner.
But I think in order for them to further prevent these cases from occurring in the first place, in the cases of those who still hold their share certificates that are not being passed into the system, which affects most especially elderly shareholders, which up till tomorrow you will continue to find in the country if there is no proper education most especially those investors who live in the rural areas.
They still have it hanged in their sitting rooms share certificates that are dated back to over 40 years ago, and still prefer that they remain there of which if a fraudster should lay his hand upon, they can go to any length with it.
So the CSCS’ requirement that every certificate be sent to their data base is something that all shareholders must comply with including those who live in the rural areas.
OGUNBIYI OLUSOLA: The investment security tribunal is really doing well. You need to know that the people that are perpetrating these fraudulent acts in the market do a lot of home work and to ensure that there is fair treatment to both the accuser and the accused. They also need to do some home work and that is what might make it look as if their operation is taking a lot of time.
I will want to enjoin the directors of the body to ensure that they do not relent in their efforts to ensure that the capital market is sanitised of fraud of whatever form.
It is also good for the tribunal to create more awareness about what they are doing.
This function should not be left to the body alone but also to every of the market regulators, and when this is done, the market will become a better place for all to do business. Because if the investors know what is expected of them as shareholders, where and how to get help when needed, then there will be less cases of selling or taking what does not belong to you since you know the implication of what you are doing.