Ndidi Okereke–Onyiuke, Former Stock Exchange Boss Defends Allegation of Spending N186Million on 165 Rolex Wrist Watches
The accounts of the former Director-General of theNigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mrs. Ndidi Okereke– Onyiuke, and the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Dr. Arunma Oteh over the events that led to the near collapse of the Nigerian Stock Market have continued to yield stunning revelations.
While giving accounts at the resumed hearing of the House of Representative ad-hoc committee probing the near collapse of the capital market on Monday, the 7th of May, 2012, Dr. Oteh blamed financial schemes and misappropriation of funds by former council members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) as the main reasons. She noted that the former council members carried out fraudulent transactions, which includes the purchase of N186 million worth of wristwatches without proper accounts and a yacht for N39 million.
Speaking about the NSE, she said “it was brought to my attention that there were incidences of financial scheming, misappropriation, false accounting, misrepresentations, and questionable transactions”. For instance, the council of the Nigeria stock Exchange bought a yacht for N37 million and wrote down the book value within one year by recognizing it in its books as a gift presented during its 2008 long service award”she alleged. “Yet there are no record of the beneficiary,” she added.
Dr. Oteh also alleged that the council of the stock exchange also spent N186 million on the purchase of 165 Rolex wrist watches, as gift for awardees out of which only 73 were actually presented to the awardees.“The outstanding 92 Rolex watches valued at N99.5 million remained unaccounted for.” These were the kind of financial imprudence that were perpetrated at the Nigerian stock exchange,” Ms Oteh said.
However, defending the allegations yesterday before the panel, Okereke– Onyiuke explained that the watches were bought for awardees who had spent 48 years in the Stock Exchange. According to her, the expenditure was approved at the Annual General Meeting of the NSE, after it had also adopted the audited accounts of the organisation. Okereke-Onyiuke, therefore, described the allegation as “pure fabrication to support the illegality of the invasion of the NSE by SEC in August 2010. So, it was shocking to me when people came to talk to the committee about issues that were purely private. It was all to justify the illegal invasion of the NSE by armed policemen from SEC,” she added.
Oteh had during her presentation to the committee on Monday, alleged that the NSE council, under Okereke-Onyiuke’s leadership, misappropriated over N1.5bn. While responding to this, Okereke-Onyiuke explained that the money was generated from “fees”, which the shareholders agreed to spend on hosting the NSE 48th anniversary. “It is not anybody’s money; the stock exchange doesn’t take public funds. This is a private organization that makes money from operating fees and bonuses. You don’t ask somebody, how do you spend your money? We didn’t steal anybody’s money,” she stated.
Commenting on why the market crashed in 2009, Okereke-Onyuike blamed it primarily on the crisis in the banking industry. “The banks controlled 60 per cent of quoted securities; so when they had a problem, it affected the market. No other quoted companies had a problem,” she told the panel. Also, speaking on how to revive the capital market, she suggested a bailout by the Federal Government just as it did for the banking sector. Oteh, who was supposed to appear before the panel yesterday didn’t, but instead sent a letter asking for permission to attend to other issues. She was therefore not present to respond to Okereke-Onyiuke’s defence.
News Source: Channels TV | Punch