Famzhi Interbiz Ltd not registered as capital market operator, witness tells court

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A Senior Manager, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ahmed Nakwada told a Federal High Court that Famzhi Interbiz Limited was not registered nor licensed to carry out capital market operations.

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 Nakwada stated this while testifying before Justice Inyang Ekwo in the alleged N2 billion fraud suit preferred against the company and its Chairman and Managing Director, Mariam Suleiman.

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 The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Suleiman and her firm were, on Dec. 9, 2021, arraigned by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) on two counts of fraud. They, however, pleaded not guilty and Suleiman was admitted.

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Nakwada, while being led in evidence by counsel for the AGF, Moshood Adeyemi, told the court that from the records in SEC, the company was not registered.

“I was invited by the police to give a statement concerning their business activities which I did concerning the issue of whether they are registered as capital market operators which they are not registered and that is the statement I gave,” he said. 

When Adeyemi asked him further if the company was registered from the SEC record, the witness said: “It is not registered and it is not licensed by the commission to carry out any capital market operations.”

Nakwada, who was the first prosecution witness (PW1) in the case, said he had worked with SEC for 20 years.

He said his office got information about the promoters of the company through a surveillance exercise carried out by the commission concerning their business activities of seeking for funds from the general public to invest for them.

“When your office discovered that, what did you do?” the lawyer asked.“I was invited by the police to give a statement with respect to the company,” he said.

During cross-examination by the defence counsel, Christian Oti, the witness said he understood the company was in the business of soliciting for funds from the Nigerian public to invest for them for the purpose of making returns.

He said Famzhi was a public limited company.When Oti said only public limited companies were required to be registered by the commission, Nakwada responded that “limited liability companies are required to perform the following functions like issuing house.”

The witness stressed that “limited liability companies are required to register with the SEC to perform the nature of business that Famzhi Interbiz Ltd performs.”

He said this was in accordance with Section 13 of the Securities and Investment Act.

When the lawyer asked him how SEC carried out its investigation to discover that the firm solicited for funds, Nakwada said it was through undercover surveillance in conjunction with the police.

Another witness, Mr. Okoh Daniel, a civil servant, who said he invested N2 million in the company, also testified against the defendants.

The court fixed April 26 for trial continuation.(NAN)

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