By Patience Danjuma
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun has denied allegations that she ordered suspended Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, to halt the forensic audit of Oando Plc, stating that the embattled oil and gas firm clearly has a case to answer with regard to infractions of the Investment and Securities Act (ISA).
Adeosun described attempts to link the Gwarzo’s suspension with the Oando forensic audit as “blackmail”.
The Minister suspended Gwarzo on November 29 and set up an administrative panel to probe allegations of corruption leveled against him.
In a statement issued on her behalf by her spokesman, Oluyinka Akintunde yesterday, Adeosun defended the suspension, saying it was in line with the public service rules.
“It should be noted that Gwarzo was queried by the ministry on November 3 and he responded on November 7, 2017. His response to the query was deemed unsatisfactory and further investigation was ordered,” the statement read.
“At the meeting on Monday, November 27, Mr. Gwarzo was asked to clarify some of his responses to the query issued, which were not consistent with the documentary evidence.
“From that interaction, Mr. Gwarzo became aware of the strong likelihood of his suspension. It was thereafter that Mr. Gwarzo prepared the memo, which has been circulated in the media.
“Mr. Gwarzo personally delivered the memo using SEC staff seconded to the office of the Minister, in breach of normal procedures for the receipt of mail.
“The copy of the memo in the possession of the Minister was delivered with a message that any action against Mr. Gwarzo would result in same being leaked to the press.
“It was this threat of blackmail that strengthened the resolve of the Minister to suspend Mr. Gwarzo and allow the administrative panel of inquiry to proceed with its probe.”
Adeosun denied the report that she moved against the SEC DG because he refused to suspend the forensic audit being carried out on Oando.
Adeosun added that the decision to suspend Oando’s shares emanated from the Ministry.
“That the original decision taken by SEC on October 20, 2017 to suspend the shares of Oando Plc and conduct a forensic audit was approved and endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Finance.
“The SEC team, led by Mr. Mounir presented adequate evidence to the Minister of Finance and her team that Oando Plc had a clear case to answer with regard to infractions of the ISA.
“For the avoidance of doubt, there was no directive whatsoever to discontinue investigation into Oando and this was reiterated to the current SEC leadership at the formal handover meeting.
“The Minister restates that the insinuation of an instruction to discontinue with the Oando case is false and this can be corroborated by the other parties at that meeting and by subsequent events,” the statement added.
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