SEC seizes N2.35b ‘ponzi’ assets

THE Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has blocked assets valued at about N2.35 billion belonging to ponzi schemes as the Commission vows to further confiscate illegal assets and prosecute operators of unapproved schemes.

Ponzi scheme refers to illegal phony savings and investment scheme often run by unapproved persons in violation of extant rules and guidelines. Ponzi scheme is also known as “wonder bank”.

SEC stated that it blocked four bank accounts and real estate properties linked to operators of ponzi schemes while the Commission also sealed premises of four operators.

The blocked assets included N1.12 billion in various bank accounts and real estate properties valued at N1.23 billion.

Acting Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms Mary Uduk, who presented the Commission’s scorecard for last year and plan for 2020 in Lagos, said the Commission recorded significant successes in its efforts to protect the Nigerian public from unscrupulous persons.

She explained that 2019 saw an upsurge in the activities of ponzi schemes in Nigeria and the Commission had to step up its enforcement actions to safeguard the public and deter the illegal operators.

According to her, the Commission went after many of the promoters and directors of such schemes, securing a conviction last year while many others are presently being prosecuted.

On the other areas of enforcement and investor’s protection, Uduk outlined that the Commission received 167 complaints and resolved 102 complaints in 2019 with N100.11 million and 8,848 shares recovered for investors. SEC is also prosecuting eight capital market fraud cases while it generated N194.48 million from penalties during the period.

She said the focus of the Commission enforcement program-me in 2020 will continue to be the protection of investors with particular attention to retail and unsophisticated investors in the Nigerian capital market.

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