SEC, NFIU collaborate to combat crimes in capital markets

By Salamatu Ejembi, Lagos.

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the main regulatory institution of the Nigerian capital market and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Nigerian arm of the global financial intelligence Units (FIUs), have agreed to collaborate in combating crime in the Nigerian capital market. This is to ensure that suspicious transactions are eradicated from the capital market.

Acting Director-General of the SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, who spoke in Abuja during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, said the collaboration was necessary in order to close ranks in the face of insider dealings, re-awakening of Ponzi schemes, cybercrime and other fraudulent activities that have engulfed the market in the last few years.

Uduk said the Commission is paying close attention to digital transactions and is in the process of amending its rules to capture such transactions.

She disclosed that the Commission already has regulations that prohibit Shell Companies from operating in the capital market and implored the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit to assist with solutions to track suspicious transactions as they occur.

“If we have solutions that will help us track transactions, it will reduce incidence of insider-dealing greatly.

“We would be very willing to collaborate with you on that in our determination to ensure that our markets are efficient and transparent and all investors are protected”  Uduk said.

Some areas where the MoU seeks Co-operation of both Agencies includes training, secondment of middle cadre officers between both organizations, cross border monitoring, repatriation of stolen funds from the Capital market and prosecution of offenders, amongst others.

On the rising spate of Ponzi schemes in the country, Uduk stressed the need for more collaboration between both organizations and further sensitization to ensure unsuspecting Nigerians do not continue to lose their hard earned money.

In his remarks, Director of NFIU, Mr. Modibbo Tukur, commended the SEC for the relationship that has existed between both organizations and assured that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) would continue to play its part in ensuring that the financial system is safe for Nigerians to operate.

To this end, Tukur disclosed that the NFIU is making efforts to ensure that the financial system is rid of Shell companies, adding that for companies to exist, they should have physical addresses.

“If anyone establishes a company, it has to be a company indeed and we have to be firm on this. This has become more important now, given the roll out of the ECOWAS single currency, because with that, we know that capital and investments will move across borders and it is a single currency.

“So we have to step up regulation to avoid fraudulent transactions.

“We will commence by September and some companies would have to be deregistered, if they do not meet the criteria.

“We will publish the parameters and also give them enough time to regularize after which those that do not comply before the deadline will be shut down.

“If you have an empty company hanging in the system, it is a potential danger and we should not allow it to thrive”  Tukur said.

Tukur noted that by the time the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit commences the due diligence on the Shell Companies, the information will be shared with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for their further action and commended the SEC for its regulation that does not presently allow Shell Companies to operate in the capital market.

“Analysis would now be digital so the organization would be able to share information on transactions as fast as possible.

“The capital market, being a very sensitive one, care has to be taken in information dissemination to avoid disruptions,”  he added.

Amaka E. Nliam