Mounir Gwarzo, the director-general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), was suspended by the minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, for refusing to halt the forensic probe of Oando Plc, THISDAY has reported.
But the office of the minister has denied the allegation, maintaining that Gwarzo was suspended following allegations that he was carting away documents to undermine a petition against him.
Gwarzo has insisted on a forensic audit of Oando over allegations of irregularities, notably the increased trading in the company’s shares before its declaration of a N183 billion loss — said to be the biggest in Nigeria’s corporate history.
However, while these and other allegations were being probed, a petition was filed against Gwarzo for paying himself a severance package as a former executive commissioner of SEC, a position from where he was made DG.
He was also accused of awarding contracts to companies allegedly owned by him and his family.
In a report on Monday, THISDAY said a meeting was held on Monday, November 27, 2017, between Gwarzo and Adeosun, where she instructed him to drop the forensic probe.
Present at the meeting were the permanent secretary of the ministry, Mahmud Isa Dutse, and the director in charge of the legal department in the ministry.
The following day, Gwarzo wrote a letter to Adeosun, asking for a written instruction and he was suspended a day after, the report said.
In the letter titled “Investigation of Oando Plc”, Gwarzo said: “Pursuant to our meeting on the above subject held on Monday, November 27, 2017, I am compelled to advice you ma, on the implication of the verbal directive issued to me in which you stated that the SEC should discontinue the forensic audit on Oando Plc and hold a tripartite meeting with Legal Officers of the Commission, Oando Plc and the Federal Ministry of Finance, with the purpose of coming up with penalties which would be issued to top officials of Oando Plc in their personal capacity for payment.
“Honourable Minister, it is important to stress that an action such as that proposed above would definitely put to question the independence and integrity of the Commission, while also completely eroding the confidence of both local and international investors in the Nigerian capital market.
“Furthermore, as you may be aware, the activities around the investigation of Oando Plc are being closely monitored by the local and global investment community and they eagerly expect the outcome of the exercise.
“It is therefore not in the best interest of our recovering economy that the forensic audit is not seen to be conducted in an independent and transparent manner proposed by the Commission