The arrest last week of the embattled Group Managing Director (GMD), BGL Plc, Albert Okumagba, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for offences bordering on stealing and obtaining money by false pretences has marked another hurdle for Okumagba.
The 51-year-old, who hails from Delta State, was picked up last Wednesday, September 9, 2015, by operatives of the EFCC. His arrest was triggered by investigation into a petition submitted to the anti-graft agency by the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, in May, 2015.
He was alleged to have diverted the sum of N28.9 billion being proceeds of private placements of 4.3 billion ordinary shares of 50 kobo each at N7.00 per share in 2007.
The company, whose subsidiaries include BGL Capital, BGL Private Equity, BGL Security and BGL Asset Management, allegedly lured 50 investors from across the country into subscribing to the company’s shares, promising them options of liquidity and exit within two years.
The liquidity and exit options offered the investors, which were contained in its memorandum of private placements, implies that the investors would get value for their investments through one of its subsidiaries, BGL Securities Limited.
But BGL moved the sum of N28.9 billion to an offshore account belonging to one of its subsidiaries, BV1 Club 1, British Virgin Island.
The suspect was also said to have refused the investors the opportunity to liquidate their assets as promised.
Investigation also revealed that though the suspect allegedly promised the investors that BGL would be listed on the SEC via an Initial Private Offer, IPO, within 24 months after the private placements was concluded in 2008, it, however, turned out to be a ruse.
Meanwhile, Shareholders in Nigeria’s capital market have commended the arrest of Okumagba.
National Coordinator of the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), Sir Sunny Nwosu, in a chat at the weekend, commended the anti-craft agency for the bold step. He said that there is need for investment managers to follow due process in their dealings.
His words: “My take on the arrest is that it is a welcome development in the financial sector. He should answer the query. That is why it is good to follow due process, it is a unique society, if his hands are clean, he doesn’t need to fear. Don’t forget that the money involved here is not small, however, he is not the first in the financial sector to have been invited to be questioned by EFCC, if his hands are clean, he will wriggle out of it, but if not, he should face the music.”
Speaking in the same vein, President, Progressive Shareholders
Association of Nigeria, Mr. Boniface Okezie, said that the arrest was belated, adding that EFCC should have picked him up earlier. “EFCC should be proactive to take prompt action to reduce corruption among the investment managers. What SEC did was right, the commission should be commended. This action will make every big boys to sit up,” Okezie said.