Several investors on Wednesday narrated how they were allegedly swindled of more than N4.8 billion in investment schemes promoted by Partnership Investment Company Plc, owned by Mr. Victor Ogiemwonyi, a prominent operator in the stock market.
Representatives of some 300 investors including Mr. Arnold Ekpe, a former chief executive of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, said they were approached by Ogiemwonyi to surrender their shares to him for management with a promise to provide a guaranteed return periodically.
Already Ogiemwonyi, a council member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), has been remanded in Ikoyi prisons following his arraignment by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before the High Court of Lagos for sundry offences including stealing and dishonest conversion of proceeds of share sale.
Ogiemwonyi’s arraignment by the EFCC followed a petition by the NSE, which took up a case lodged by one of the defrauded investors, Mr. Arnold Ekpe.
Ogiemwonyi was alleged to have fraudulently misappropriated Ekpe’s investments worth N1.24 billion and $80,000.
Some of the other victims included Mr. Godwin Anono, Chairman, Standard Shareholders Association of Nigeria with over N160 million worth of shares, Mr. Alabi Olushola Ibrahim with over N12.540 million worth of shares; Mr. Solesi Samuel with over N40 million worth of shares and a widow with over N4 million worth of shares among others.
Narrating his ordeal, Mr. Alabi Olushola Ibrahim said: “Mr. Ogiemwonyi , the Managing Director of Partnership Investment Company Plc called me to say that since I have some shares that are not being traded over the years that it would be good for me if his company could manage those shares and generate 10 per cent returns, and that this would be paid to me twice a year.
“When I looked at the proposal it was reasonable and the man involved is a prominent Council member of the NSE, I trusted him. I did not enter the deal with an unregistered operator and it was not that he offered me a fantastic return, but a reasonable return. The deal was such that I can back out at anytime I wish. When in 2014 the returns were not forth coming, Ogiemwonyi started giving one excuse or the other; that the returns are being reinvested, it was then I realised that he was playing fowl, hence I demanded for my shares which could not be returned to me”.
Continuing he said, “A culprit, Mr. Anold Ekpe through his lawyer, McPherson Barristers & Solicitors has written to the NSE for intervention and no remedy has been provided. Also, some of the other investors including myself have taken the case to court and Mr. Ogiemwonyi has been remanded in prison custody at Ikoyi, Lagos.”
Meanwhile, responding to the letter sent to the NSE over an allegation of the fraudulent conversion of the N1.237 billion shares belonging to Arnold . O . Ekpe, the Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Olumide Orojimi said, “On 17 October 2016, The Exchange received a complaint dated 16 October 2016 from Mr. Arnold O. Ekpe against Partnership Securities Limited (PSL). In his complaint, Mr. Ekpe alleged the PSL misappropriated the sum of N1,237,245,000, being part of the proceeds of sale of his shares (96,077,872 units of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated Plc) and dividends of US$80,000.00. Specifically, Mr. Ekpe alleged that although he completed a form indicating that the proceeds of the share sales should settle into his bank account under the Direct Cash Settlement system, PSL elected to settle the proceeds into its own account and misappropriated the funds. Upon receipt of the complaint, The Exchange took a number of actions, including the following: ( i) On 17 October 2016, The Exchange suspended PSL from trading on all floors of The Exchange, effective 18 October 2016. PSL remains under suspension from trading on the floor of the Exchange.
“On 17 October 2016, The Exchange requested the Central Securities Clearing System Plc (CSCS) to request the settlement bank to place N42,499,761.20, being the proceeds from the sale of ETI shares for Mr. Ekpe made by PSL on 14 October but due to settle on 18 October 2016 into a special CSCS bank account in order to prevent the proceeds from settling into the account of PSL.
“Subsequently, the sum of N 43,301,792.70 being the proceeds of sale less statutory charges was paid to Mr. Ekpe’s Union Bank Plc. account on 3 November 2016 as a direct result of the steps undertaken by The Exchange immediately upon its receipt of Mr. Ekpe’s complaint. (ii) On 17 October 2016, The Exchange requested the Central Securities Clearing System Plc. (CSCS) to request the settlement bank to place N42,499,761.20, being the proceeds from the sale of ETI shares for Mr. Ekpe made by PSL on 14 October but due to settle on 18 October 2016 into a special CSCS bank account in order to prevent the proceeds from settling into the account of PSL.
“Subsequently, the sum of N 43,301,792.70 being the proceeds of sale less statutory charges was paid to Mr. Ekpe’s Union Bank Plc. account on 3 November 2016 as a direct result of the steps undertaken by The Exchange immediately upon its receipt of Mr. Ekpe’s complaint.
(iii.) The Exchange on 19 October 2016 formally informed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the complaint and requested for a joint examination of PSL and its associated companies. This formal notification was a follow up on an earlier oral notification to relevant personnel of the Commission shortly after receipt of the complaint on 17 October 2016. (iv.) The Exchange thereafter held a meeting with Mr. Ekpe, his solicitors McPherson Barristers & Solicitors (McPherson) and PSL on Monday 24 October 2016 to address the issue and take necessary steps towards recovery of the sums misappropriated and sanctioning of PSL upon conclusion of the matter.
(v. )Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding between The Exchange and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on 31 October 2016, The Exchange filed a petition before the EFCC in respect of the complaint on the fraudulent misappropriation of the sum of N 1,237,245,000 and US$80,000.00 belonging to Mr. Ekpe. The matter is presently the subject of a criminal investigation by the EFCC.”
Meanwhile, when contacted the Acting Managing Director, Partnership Investment Company Plc , Mr. Andrew Elueni via text message, said “The case is in court. Anything said may be prejudiced. Meanwhile, there is nothing like share scam as Partnership had the customer’s mandate to sell.”
By Success Allantee….
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