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Monday, 5 February 2018

I was empowered by the law to disburse N1.7bn - DG of SEC defends insists

I was empowered by the law to disburse N1.7bn - DG of SEC defends insists

Suspended SEC DG defends N1.7bn payment to workers

- Mounir Gwarzo, the suspended director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), on Sunday, February 4, defended his spending of N1.7bn as payment of severance package for members of staff of the commission.

- Mounir Gwarzo, the director-general of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims that he was never involved in any spending unapproved by the commission

- The report of the Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API) says that Gwarzo's spending of N1.7bn as payment to some staff of SEC as severance package was never provided in the 2015 budget of the commission

- He says that the commission in 2015 introduced a voluntary exit scheme for members of staff willing to quit its service

Mounir Gwarzo, the suspended director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, on Sunday, February 4, gave clarification as to why he spent the sum of N1.7bn as severance package under a ‘Golden Handshake’ scheme to workers of the commission under his leadership.

Gwarzo stated that contrary to claims that he was involved in spending outside the commission's budget in implementing the scheme, the fund was approved by the board of the commission at its meeting in 2015, The Punch reports.

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The Administrative Panel of Inquiry (API), which was set up to probe Gwarzo, had claimed that the payment of the N1.7bn to 44 members of staff of SEC was never provided for in the commission’s budget for 2015.

The API said the payment is one of the contraventions of the financial regulation by the embattled SEC DG, which led to his being dismissed from public service.

However, Gwarzo, on Sunday, February 4, said that the commission in 2015, introduced a voluntary exit scheme for members of staff willing to quit the service of SEC. He added that the funding of the scheme was carried out in accordance to the statutorily laid down procedure for disbursing funds.

He stated: “The ‘Golden Handshake’ exercise was a voluntary retirement scheme designed by the commission for certain category of staff to exit the commission. As an incentive to access the scheme, staff members were offered certain percentages of their allowances/remuneration.

“The scheme was duly approved by the Board of the commission at its meeting of March 12, 2015 and funded from the commission’s 2015 budget.

“Section 4 (1) (d) of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 empowers the Board of the commission to consider and approve the annual budget of the commission as may be presented to it by the management.

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“Thus, the Board in exercise of its power as contained in the ISA, approved the 2015 budget of the commission. Furthermore, Sections 19 and 20 of the ISA empower the commission to establish and maintain a fund, the proceeds of which it may apply to meet its financial obligations.”

He said: “The effect of the provisions of the ISA cited above is that the commission is empowered to cater for all of its financial obligations from its funds. However, such amounts must be expended from a budget, which must be approved by the board of the commission.”

Earlier, NAIJ.com reported that fresh facts allegedly emerged on Thursday, February 1, that the embattled former director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, spent over N1.7 billion on ‘golden handshake’ to some staff without due process and approval.

It was reported that filings with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and bank documents showed Gwarzo may have been economical with the facts about his relationships with the two private companies linked to him.

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