SEC suspends Heritage Capital Markets for alleged share fraud

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has suspended Heritage Capital Markets Limited, its directors and sponsored individuals for an alleged fraudulent sale of investor’s shares.

National Daily gathered that Heritage Capital Market which has two former presidents of Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Mr. Chidi Ajaegbu and Mrs Ibironke Osiyemi as Directors was suspended in connection with unauthorised sale of shares belonging to an investor using the capital market term for shares fraud.

According to SEC, Heritage Capital Markets failed to comply with the Commission’s directives to restitute the affected investor.

Other suspended directors included Dr Elijah Ogbuokiri, Prof Emmanuel Emenyonu and Oluseyi Olanrewaju. Suspended sponsored individuals included Paul Onalo, chief compliance officer and Oyafemi Titus, a stockbroker.

The latest suspension came on the heels of the expulsion of three stockbrokers and an accountant for shares fraud by the council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) earlier this month. The expulsion earlier in December brought the number of stockbrokers that had been expelled in 2016 to about seven as the Exchange seeks to protect the market integrity against the tempting recourse to illegal shares sale by hard-pressed stockbrokers.

The three stockbrokers, who were members and authorised dealer on the Exchange, were stripped of their registration and authority to trade on the NSE for selling shares belonging to their clients without the mandate and consent of the clients.

With the stock market downtrend and economic recession fuelling temptations to sell investors’ shares in their custody, the NSE had recently started the implementation of newly amended rules aimed at tightening the noose on unauthorised sale and transfer of shares by unscrupulous stockbroking firms and traders.

Under the amended rules, the Exchange could withdraw the dealing licence of any erring stockbroking firm and trader as well as impose fines not less than N1 million on any offender.

According to the rule, no dealing member shall sell or transfer any securities without the authorisation of the owner.

Incorporated in November 1997, Heritage Capital Markets Limited is licensed by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), SEC and FMDQ to operate as broker-dealer in the Nigerian capital market as well as offer brokerage services in fixed income securities. It has authorised share capital of N2 billion and shareholders’ funds of more than N1 billion.