SEC ban: Heritage Capital sets records straight

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Following its suspension and subsequent unbanning by the Securities and Exchange Commission from the capital market, the apex regulatory agency in the sector, Heritage Capital Markets Limited has decided to set the record straight for the avoidance of doubt and confusion.

In a statement titled: ‘Heritage Capital reacts to SEC’s unbanning from market’ and signed on behalf of the company by Sunday Oyekale, its Chief Compliance Officer said the problem arise as a result of an alleged transmission of shares belonging to the late Cyril Ukachukwu, a development, it regretted did huge damages done to its corporate image.

SEC had, on December 21, 2016, suspended Heritage Capital Markets and its directors as well as sponsored individuals over the alleged unauthorised sale of shares.

But in another release signed by SEC’s management, the capital market regulator revealed that it had lifted the suspension on the company on February 1, 2017; but did not give details.

Responding to the ban lifting, the management of Heritage Capital Markets noted that, “We are constrained by the erroneous impression created by the above SEC letter and the media blitz given to it; hence, we are responding with the facts of the matter.

Heritage Capital said, “The Ukachukwu family is a polygamous family of four wives and 13 children, and sometime in 2013, one Mrs. Celine Nkiru Okoro (nee Ukachukwu) brought a Power of Attorney and a board resolution from C. N. Ukachukwu & Sons Limited and the executor of their late father’s will respectively empowering her to transmit, verify and trade on late Cyril Ukachukwu‘s shares.

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“These documents were vetted and submitted to the Registrars who in turn relied on these documents to transmit and verify the stocks.

“The Power of Attorney and board resolution gave her the sole authority to transmit and deal on the stocks of the estate of her late father. We were rather surprised that three members of the family petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and SEC apparently because the market has gone against their speculation.

“There was no forensic scrutiny on the denial of the family that they did not sign the board resolution that gave Okoro, the erstwhile company secretary Of C.N.Ukachukwu & Sons Limited the power to trade on the account and yet the two agencies that investigated the matter completely discountenanced the Board Resolution in arriving at their conclusions.”

Heritage Capital said variations in claim from N20m to N100mto doubling of the units of shares involved were not supported by any documentary evidences, and “yet these inconsistencies did not put any of the commissions on enquiry during the investigation.”

The firm added, “SEC ruled that Heritage Capital and Okoro should jointly restore the account of the estate. We appealed the ruling by SEC by going to Investment and Securities Tribunal but later withdrew the case to comply with SEC directive as a regulator.

“We eventually restored our part of the portfolio as directed by the commission, we wrote the commission of our compliance with its directive, to notify and seek further direction as to what to do next on December7, 2016 and followed it up with a reminder on December 15, 2016 (both letters were duly acknowledged) and SEC still went ahead to suspend us on December 21, 2016.

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“We are of the opinion that the suspension was as a result of communication gap within the commission in view of our two letters of December 7and 15, 2016 referred hereto above.”

Heritage Capital said it had spent N45m on the transaction to date, having paid out N19.4m on the instruction of Okoro and used over N26m to restore the estate’s portfolio.

It explained that the family owed it N7.4m if SEC’s directive to jointly restore is applied on a fifty/fifty basis.

Despite the fore goings, EFCC arraigned one of our Ex-Staff Mrs. Nneka Okechukwu for contributory negligence with Mrs. Celine Okoro (nee Ukachukwu) on this matter.

“Finally, we want to emphasise for the benefit of our numerous clients that we are not and cannot be affiliated to Heritage Bank Plc,” the company maintained.

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