SEC submits report on Cadbury\\\'s overstatement saga
Category: Frauds & Scandals
August 16, 2007/ Guardian
Having concluded its investigations in the alleged overstatement of accounts of Cadbury Nigeria Plc, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has submitted its findings to the Federal Ministry of Finance, and other security agencies.
However, several court injunctions were said to be a clog in the wheel of the hearing of the case before the Administrative Proceeding Committee (APC) of the commission.
A competent source close to SEC said: \"The comprehensive report of the findings of SEC running into volumes has been submitted to various security agencies, including the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Minister of Finance, among others. It has about five or six volumes. The parties involved were billed to appear before APC some weeks ago, but some of them came with court injunction that they should not be tried. This was the second court injunction.\"
The commission had recently alleged that Cadbury Nigeria Plc was frustrating efforts to investigate the overstatements reported in the company\'s accounts last year.
Cadbury, however denied this and said it was collaborating fully with the regulator.
\"We are cooperating with SEC,\" the spokesman of Cadbury, Mr. Kufre Ekanem, said on telephone.
An overstatement in the accounts of Cadbury
Nigeria was discovered last year after the company appointed an independent investigator, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, to probe its accounts.
SEC, which regulates the activities of all quoted companies, said it constituted an administrative proceeding committee to conduct a thorough investigation into the fraud, but said Cadbury was blocking the investigations.
The Acting Director, Investigations and Enforcement, SEC, Mr. Charles Udora, said that when the panel was to hear the position of the company, Cadbury
Nigeria brought an order from the Federal High Court and stopped the proceedings.
Udora, who spoke in a programme on Channels Television monitored by our correspondent in
Lagos, said that as a law abiding corporate citizen, SEC stayed proceedings on that day, went to that court and discharged that order.
\"We were able to discharge that order and we fixed other date for the hearing, which were July 23 and 24. And then, we were slammed with another injunction from the company,\" he said.
He said that with the information available to the commission, it would have sat down and taken a decision.
According to him, SEC decided to go a step further by bringing in all stakeholders to a very transparent atmosphere that was clear to everybody.
\"But the issue is being prevented by the same company we are trying to assist to bring out the truth. If this goes on for a longer time, the commission will do what it ought to have done,\" he said.
Cadbury declined to comment on the court injunction.
\"The matter is in court. We can\'t comment,\" Ekanem said.
Udora, however said that Cadbury, which claimed to have discovered the overstatement should allow transparent investigations.
He said, \"we only invited everybody, including the directors, auditors, members of the audit committee to come and say what they know for the world to know. We have constituted the panel, but the company is the one preventing the panel from hearing from them.\"
The President, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Boniface Okezie, flayed Cadbury for going to court to stop SEC.
According to him, since the APC was a legal organ meant to resolve issues in the market, Cadbury ought to have waited for the outcome and if not satisfied, it could then decide to go to the Investments and Securities Tribunal.