Let’s End The Unclaimed Dividend Debacle- SEC Charges Registrars

Yemisi Izuora
Mounir Gwazo Ag D-G SEC
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has raised concern over unclaimed dividends and sought the understanding of Registrars on the electronic payment system.

SEC  said that compliance with the electronic dividend (e-dividend) payment option is a sure way of reducing unclaimed dividends in the nation’s capital market.

The Acting Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo who made the call when he received the Institute of Capital Market Registrars (ICMR), led by its president, Mr. Bayo Olugbemi in Abuja noted that the issue of unclaimed dividends has been a thorny one  in the market over the years with stakeholders trading blames.

He explained that SEC had to introduce e-dividend to facilitate direct payment of dividends into shareholders’ bank accounts but said however, many shareholders are yet to embrace e-dividends, a development that has made unclaimed dividends to remain high.

Gwarzo therefore tasked the registrars to ensure 100 per cent compliance with e-dividend policy and also appealed them to ensure efficient service delivery, total support for dematerialisation of share certificates as well as ensuring drastic reduction of unclaimed dividends.

According to him, the commission is working to empower self-regulatory organisations (SROs) and trade groups to enable them handle some complaints, deal with them with dispatch and also exercise some measure of control on their members.

He explained that the trade groups and SROs would  be empowered to settle complaints in their various groups while only unresolved issues would  be escalated to the apex regulatory body.

This, he said,  would enable the commission concentrate more on its core functions of regulating and developing the capital market.

“We have finished the rules on complaints management framework and very soon, it will be exposed. One of the highlights is to allow complaints to be managed at the lower level” Gwarzo explained.

He emphasised that the strategy of the commission is not to create committees but to focus on prescriptions of previous committees and ensuring that these prescriptions are executed within reasonable time frames.

In response, Olugbemi said there were some factors affecting the operations of the registrars which include poor income from their activities in the market and non-passage of the institute’s bill among others.

“We are in support of reduction of fees in the capital market but what we earn is just too small and not a reflection of services we render and the bill for the institute to be chartered has not been passed” Olugbemi  said.

He assured the commission of the registrars in the market would continue to cooperate with the commission and comply with its directives aimed at improving the market.

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