…. Says Access Bank Pays Salaries Of Staffers Hired By SEC Who Occupy Strategic Positions.
ABUJA, March 14, (THEWILL) – The Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Arunmah Oteh admitted under oath Wednesday afternoon before the House Committee on the Capital Market that two Access Bank Plc staffers who are currently occupying strategic positions in the regulator were seconded from Access Bank Plc and are being paid by the bank.
The stunning revelation which Oteh had initially tried to dodge at the public hearing put the ability of the regulator to carryout over sight functions on the bank in question.
Many observers believe that SEC may have been compromised by Access Bank Plc who have been severally accused of unethical and sharp practices in the banking sector especially in the stock market. The bank led by Aigboje Imoukhuede recently acquired troubled lender Intercontinental Bank Plc in a controversial deal.
The Access Bank Staffers – Mr. Charles Ugheli, working as a Project Adviser to Oteh in SEC and Titi Olubiyi, a communications adviser to Oteh are full staffers of Access Bank Plc but resume duties at SEC.
THEWILL later gathered from sources that Charles Ugheli, who works directly under Oteh oversees Access Bank Plc.
In addition to suspiciously hiring two Staff of a bank (Access Bank Plc) monitored by SEC, Ms Oteh was alleged to have been involved in a number of extravagant spendings, including wasting more than N30 million in eight months on hotel accommodation.
Chairman of the Committee, Hon. Herman Hembe who made the disclosure, accused the DG of engaging in illegal employments, and decried her employment of two staff of Access Bank Plc at SEC, an action he believed was capable of compromising the regulatory functions of the organisation. According to the chairman, Oteh engaged in reckless spending when the capital market was almost collapsing.
“What you are doing at SEC smacks of plenty of fraud; it seems to me that you’re playing a very serious role to make sure that the capital market does not work,” he said. “You stayed in a hotel for eight months and spent over N30 million. In one day, you spent N85,000 on food at the hotel. The other day, you spent N850, 000 on food. These are the things we should look at to see how you will regulate a market that is collapsing.”
In a swift reaction to our report SEC released a statement titled: “Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) Not Compromised!”
The regulator attempted to talk its way out of the revelations by describing our report as “Skewed.” “It is important to put the story in the right perspectives before the misinformation assumes a life of its own,” it added.
“The Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunmma Oteh used her used her personal goodwill to attract two people on secondment to the SEC from Access Bank. They work in Brand Communications Support and Project Management / Premises Maintenance. Two areas in which SEC was and still is deficient and which are absolutely unrelated to the regulatory mandates / roles of the SEC Nigeria. There is therefore absolutely no conflict of interest involved in the matter.
They work pro bono, i.e. without earning any salaries at the SEC. They are not staff of the SEC and have no intention of taking employment at the SEC. The DG of the SEC should be commended for using her goodwill to attract them at no cost to the Commission.
The Hon. Herman Hembe, Chairman of the Public Hearing has shown needless and manifest hostility to the DG of SEC to the detriment of both the capital market and the national interest. He has twisted the facts to suit premeditated interests, which are known only to him.
While we whole heartedly welcome the public hearing, we should be mindful of utterances and acts that may erode the investor confidence which the regulatory body has been building through its numerous reforms,” the statement added.
The statement was however silent on the huge bonuses and allowances paid the two Access Bank staffers by SEC.
The statement was also silent on the ridiculous N30 million naira in 8 months wasted on accommodation and lifestyle for Oteh at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja.