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Oando’s Forensic Audit Result To Be Released Soon, Says SEC

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced late on Wednesday night that Nigerians, particularly shareholders of Oando PLC, should expect the release of the primary findings of the forensic audit of the company soon.

The statement was coming amid confusion earlier on Wednesday over the sudden lifting of the technical suspension on trading on Oando PLC shares.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has already announced that trading on the embattled oil and gas company’s equities would resume on Thursday.

The shares of the company were placed on technical suspension on October 23, 2017 following the announcement of a forensic audit in the wake of alleged massive “manipulation of the company’s shareholding structure.”

Some petitioners had accused the company of gross misconduct and serial abuses that breached the Investments & Securities Act 2007 and the SEC Code of Corporate Governance for Public Companies.

The allegations were contained in two petitions filed with the capital market regulator by two of the company’s shareholders, Dahiru Mangal and Gabriele Volpi, through Ansbury Incorporated.

The NSE spokesperson, Joseph Kadiri, said in a statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES that SEC had directed, through a letter dated April 9, that the suspension order on the company shares be lifted immediately.

Although the reversal of the earlier directive a few hours after the suspension was lifted stirred anxiety and confusion on the trading floor of the market, the NSE expressed regrets over the development.

However, in another statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday night, SEC explained that the decision to lift the technical suspension placed on Oando shares was in accordance with normal practice to protect investors’ interests as a short term measure.

“Suspensions (of shares of companies) are typically intended for a short period to ensure market stability and thereafter lifted to allow market dictates,” the statement said.

The statement noted the suspension of the shares of Oando PLC was however prolonged beyond the normal period due to several litigations by the company and some shareholders contesting the propriety of the forensic audit and technical suspension ordered by SEC.

The lawsuits sought to stall SEC and NSE from effecting the technical suspension on the company shares and appointing the firm to conduct the forensic audit.

In January, one of the petitioners, Dahiru Mangal, withdrew his petition following a peace deal with the oil firm’s chief executive officer, Wale Tinubu.

On February 21, 2018, other aggrieved shareholders of the company withdrew a similar application after the Federal High Court heard and granted an application by SEC.

The Acting Director General of SEC, Abdul Zubair, said the audit process remained stalled until March 5 when the Court of Appeal granted an application by SEC for the remaining two lawsuits by Oando PLC to be vacated.

“All litigations have now been withdrawn. The independent forensic audit by Deloitte is ongoing and the primary result is expected (soon). SEC will update relevant stakeholders on the outcome of the forensic audit,” SEC said in a statement.

The commission confirmed it directed the NSE to lift the technical suspension to allow market determination of the share price of the company.

SEC reiterated its position that it acted in the interest of shareholders, assuring it would continue to protect the interest of all investors and other shareholders in the capital market.

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