The Securities and Exchange Commission said on Sunday that Oando Plc was provided sufficient opportunity of being heard before it was penalised.
SEC said in a statement that its attention had been drawn to various reports questioning its regulatory authority and insinuating a lack of due process in the investigations of the oil firm.
It said, “Fair hearing is a paramount and fundamental principle, which the commission, as a law-abiding agency, adheres to in all its investigative processes.
“In the course of the investigations, communications e.g. letters and phone calls were exchanged and meetings held between the commission and Oando Plc, requesting for its comments and explanations on issues relating to the investigations. The findings of the commission were communicated to the Group Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc by a letter dated July 10, 2017.”
The commission said it subsequently engaged Deloitte & Touche to conduct a forensic audit of the activities of the oil firm.
It said, “In the course of conducting the audit, Deloitte & Touche held regular sessions with members of the board and senior management of Oando Plc, and afforded them the opportunity to provide explanations on issues relating to the investigation.
“The commission confirms that Oando Plc was given sufficient opportunity of being heard and accorded several opportunities to rebut the issues revealed by the investigation. The responses given by Oando Plc were, however, considered unsatisfactory, prompting the decision by the commission to penalise the company and some of the individuals related to it for violations of securities laws.”
According to the statement, the actions of the commission were properly effected pursuant to the provisions of the Investments & Securities Act 2007 and the SEC Rules and Regulations made pursuant to the ISA 2007.
It said, “These facts have been properly articulated in the court process filed at the Federal High Court by the commission in response to the suit instituted by the Group Chief Executive Officer and Deputy Group Chief Executive officer of Oando Plc.
“As the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, the commission has a mandate to protect investors. The commission’s recent action on Oando Plc aligns with the above cardinal mandate, as the directive for the removal of persons from the board of Oando Plc and the appointment of an interim management team to temporarily steer the affairs of the company is to protect investors and preserve stakeholder value.”
The commission said failure or refusal to act “in the face of the serious issues thrown up by the investigations” or the reversal its directives would undermine the Federal Government’s agenda to build strong institutions and promote the transparency and integrity of the Nigerian capital market.
On May 31, SEC ordered Oando’s GCEO, Mr Wale Tinubu, and other affected board members to resign. But the company immediately replied, saying the alleged infractions and penalties were unsubstantiated, ultra vires, invalid and calculated to prejudice the business of the company.
The oil firm said it had not been given the opportunity to see, review and respond to the forensic audit report and so was unable to ascertain what findings (if any) were made in relation to the alleged infractions and defend itself accordingly before SEC.
SEC announced on June 2 that it had set up an interim management team to oversee the affairs of the company and conduct an extraordinary general meeting on or before July 1, 2019 to appoint new directors who would subsequently select a management team for the company.
However, the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos granted an interim injunction on June 3 following an application by Oando’s GCEO and his deputy, restraining SEC from executing the sanctions.