March 31, 2011 by IHEANYI NWACHUKWU
…First Bank, Access, GTB, Intercontinental, Fidelity top list
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has disclosed that at December 2010, the unclaimed dividend figure from quoted companies was N33.92 billion (N33,929,435,751.27).
SEC also says five companies – mainly banks – have the highest figures of unclaimed dividend. In its quarter-four 2010 report available to INVESTOR, SEC notes that First Bank has N19,869,355,139.34 unclaimed dividend; Access Bank has N6,152,777,434.37; Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has N3,610,346,725.63; Intercontinental Bank has N3,032,398,629.45, while Fidelity Bank has N1,264,557,822.48 unclaimed dividend.
“The inspection report from the Lagos zonal office on the position of the unclaimed dividend fund was reviewed and the findings would be verified further to determine the true position,” SEC states.
In another development, in its periodic monitoring and investigation for the fourth quarter 2010, the commission reveals it received a total of 788 correspondences from various capital market operators and investors, while 689 correspondences emanated from the commission to operators and investors, respectively.
“Out of the 788 correspondences received, 554 were with respect to stockbrokers, while 233 were in respect of registrars and 11 were with respect to miscellaneous complaints. The various complaints against stockbrokers were unauthorised /fraudulent sale of shares, non-remittance of share sale proceeds, refusal/illegal transfer of shares, falsification of clients’ accounts and non purchase of shares /undue delay in the purchase of stocks.
“The complaints against registrars included non receipt of dividend warrants/bonuses, returned monies for un-allotted shares, non verification of share certificates and non issuance of share certificates,” according to SEC.
On resolved and closed cases, the SEC notes that a total of 134 cases were resolved/closed, out of which 13 were resolved stockbroker related cases, while 119 were registrars related resolved cases and two were miscellaneous resolved cases.
“During the period under review, the following activities took place. The commission reviewed the half yearly return forms of 51 quoted companies. The review was to determine the companies’ compliance with the Code of Corporate Governance, Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and the Investment and Securities Act 2007.
“The following lapses were observed while reviewing the submissions: none disclosure of succession plan; internal control breaches and lapses not properly communicated; non-commencement of e-dividend; non-disclosure of the state of unclaimed dividend; lack of policy for newly appointed directors to receive orientation and formal training in furtherance of their job; inadequate board committees – example remuneration committee, risk management committee etc; non certification of the return forms by officers concerned; audit committee not meeting with the board; audit committee not having meeting with internal audit; and irregular board meeting,” SEC discloses.
According to the commission, other lapses observed include no distinction between executives from non-executive directors; the company’s external auditors staying too long; notices of AGM sent to shareholders falling short of 21 minimum working days requirement of the Code of Corporate Governance.
“The observed lapses were communicated to over 17 companies. Some of them responded while responses from others are still being awaited. The lapses were communicated to the companies to enable them address the observations raised and to serve as a guide in their subsequent returns.”