By Anthony Isaac
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says it has reached an agreement with the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to work together to tackle crime in the Nigerian capital market.
A statement by SEC on Wednesday said the agreement was reached when the management of the SEC met with the management team of the ICPC in Abuja.
Acting Director-General of SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, said the visit was necessary in order to seek collaboration, and also leverage on the expertise and mandate of the ICPC in tackling corrupt practices especially fraud, which has been prevalent in the Nigerian Capital Market and which is a major obstacle to the actualization of the objectives of the Commission.
Uduk said the objective of regulating the capital market is to protect investors, maintain fair, efficient and transparent Market by ensuring integrity in the market place and by preventing fraudulent practices. This shared goal she added, has necessitated a collaboration with relevant anti-corruption and law enforcement agencies in a bid to ensure that the market is fair to all investors.
According to her, “We are aware that your agency is established to curb corruption in the public sector, but as an agency of government we owe investors the duty to protect their investments, hence the need for this collaboration.
Uduk said the Capital Market has witnessed incidences of fraud by market operators who have converted and diverted investors funds and utilised same for the acquisition of personal properties within and outside Nigeria adding that this potentially undermines investor confidence.
“We believe that this collaboration will be mutually beneficial to both agencies. Promoting market integrity and the integrity of the regulator is important for facilitating the liquidity and depth necessary to attract local and foreign investors. This naturally translates to sustainable growth and development of the economy which impacts the lives of every citizen and resident.
“We are confident that creating awareness within the Commission, on relevant laws and regulations administered by the ICPC, would project the Commission as a law-abiding institution, aid our fight against market abuse, and further boost investor confidence in the regulator and the market.
“Given that technology and globalization has made it easy for assets to be dissipated or to disappear without a trace, swift and effective ways of safeguarding and tracing assets has become even more relevant. The Commission therefore seeks to leverage on your intelligence network in other countries, for the tracing and recovery of assets belonging to innocent and hardworking investors in the Nigerian Capital Market”, she stated.
In his remarks, ICPC Chairman, Prof Bolaji Owasanoye said the capital market is very important to any economy that wants to grow, stating that the ICPC is ready to partner with the SEC in order for the nation to reap the benefits of a vibrant capital market.
“I understand the need to protect investors because the capital market has been so badly affected by the activities of fraudulent individuals and organisations. We are happy to collaborate with SEC to look at those who are giving the investment climate a bad name by collecting investors funds and disappearing. We have powers to trace such people and seize their assets”.
Owasanoye said the capital market is technical and that underscores the need for mutual understanding between both organisations adding “We can train you on issues relating to how to ensure that your processes are not susceptible to corrupt practices while you on the other hand train our staff on capital market issues”.