SEC moves to clear N80b unclaimed dividends


The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it is putting in place machinery to clear unclaimed dividends worth over N80 billion.

Its Head, Corporate Communications, Naif Abdussalam, told The Nation that the capital market regulator would this week commence a road show to sensitise Nigerians on their rights to the unclaimed dividends and how to redeem them before holding a Town Hall meeting with stakeholders on the matter.

The SEC, he said, has “directed all registrars of public companies to return all unclaimed dividends, which have been in their custody for 15 months and above, to the paying companies.”

The SEC also notified the  public that enrolment for e-Dividend payments could now be efficiently conducted at bank and registrar branches nationwide through the online platform launched on July 29, last year.

The e-Dividend scheme, Abdussalam said, “has been a priority initiative for the entire capital market in a bid to curb the growth of unclaimed dividends and improve the overall efficiency of Nigeria’s equities markets.”

SEC advised all shareholders and investors in the capital market to approach their banks or registrars to complete the e-Dividend Mandate form for immediate processing and upload to the e-Dividend Mandate Management System (e-DMMS).

This service, SEC said, is free for the first 90 days beginning from December 14, last year after which it will attract a fee of N100.

To eradicate the difficulty encountered by retail investors in claiming their dividends through their savings account, SEC, in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) in July, last year launched the e payment platform.

Unveiling the platform, the Director-General of SEC, Mr. Mounir Gwarzo, said the platform would address the issue of unclaimed dividend in the market.

According to him, the platform, which is part of the 10- year capital market master plan, would address the issues of non-payment of dividends into savings account.

“The era of stale dividend and huge unclaimed dividend in the market will be a thing of the past with the launch of e-Dividend payment platform. The commission will conduct intensive training for bankers and registrars on the usage of the new portal,” Gwarzo said.

He re-emphasised the determination of the commission to implement the capital market master plan, which he said would transform the market for the benefits of all stakeholders.

The Commission followed this with a notice posted on its website, advising registrars to exercise caution while validating names generated by the system to avoid dissimilarity with the physical forms.

He further explained that “all registrars’ offices/ accredited outlets shall be points of upload of completed e-Dividend Mandate forms by investors who may alternatively approach their banker to process their completed e-Dividend Mandate Form(s)’’.

Explaining the modality for the use of the portal, SEC said: “Every registrar shall validate investor’s shareholder account number, name, signature and Clearing House Number (CHN); this shall be followed with upload of scanned copy of completed e-Dividend Mandate Form(s) on to the portal for immediate access by the investor’s nominated bank for the verification of his/her bank account details. Registrars shall exercise caution when validating names generated by the system for the clearing house number, shareholder account number and bank account number against the physical form to ensure there is a reasonable level of congruence before the document is accepted and saved on the portal.

‘The receiving bank may reject the mandate uploaded by presenting registrars if the signature on the mandate does not tally with the specimen signature of the account holder in the bank.”

The Commission added: ‘Investors should be educated to complete separate forms for each shareholder account number, as upload of e-Dividend Mandate Forms shall be on the basis of individual shareholder number and company of investment indicated by the investor on the physical e-Dividend Mandate Form.

‘To mitigate errors in the treatment of e-Dividend Mandate Forms, Registrars shall institute a marker-checker system that enables the verification and upload of e-Dividend Mandate Form(s) by a Registrar Uploader subject to confirmation and approval by a Registrar Checker’

source: Nation