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By NBF News
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Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that it has taken former Union Bank Managing Director, Mr. Bartholomew Bassey Ebong, Mr. Peter Ololo, Festus Odimegwu and 33 other individuals and entities to Investment and Securities Tribunal (IST) for prosecution.

According to the Commission's Director General, Arunma Oteh, investigation into the level of commitment of the various individuals and entities involved in some alleged market infractions have been carried out.

In a statement made available to Daily Sun, signed by its head of media, Mr. Lanre Oloyi, SEC said; 'following investigations on the intervened banks, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had in a statement on 27 August, 2010 informed the public that approximately two hundred and sixty (260) entities and individuals are being taken to the Investments and Securities Tribunal (IST) for alleged involvement in price fixing, share price manipulation, fraud, and insider trading. These activities violate the provisions of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA), 2007'.

Subsequently, the names of some entities and individuals allegedly involved in various capital market infractions with respect to Afribank Plc; one of the banks being proceeded against in IST was made public.

SEC said that in line with management decision to disclose the names of these entities and individuals taken to the Tribunal, it wishes to inform that the erstwhile Group Managing Director of Union Bank Plc, Mr. Bartholomew B. Ebong, Directors of the bank and its subsidiary – Union Trustees Limited were allegedly involved in manipulating the share price of the bank.

Also taken to the Tribunal is the Managing Director of Falcon Securities Limited, Mr. Peter Ololo and other members of the company's board for their roles in using N30.477billion credit facilities obtained from two foreign financial institutions.

The Commission, which is seeking injunctions, monetary penalties and disgorgement of profits gained in violations of the ISA from those being proceeded against in court; reiterates its commitment to restore investor confidence, enhance market integrity and protect everyday investor.

SEC said that with respect to Union Bank Plc, some of the under listed entities and individuals were allegedly involved in a share buyback scheme in contravention of SEC Rule 109B made pursuant to the ISA.

'Investigation by the Joint Task Force of SEC and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on intervened banks revealed that, between October and November 2007, Union Bank obtained credit facilities of N30.477 billion from two foreign financial institutions.

Over a ten -day period in November 2007, Union Bank transferred these funds to its wholly owned subsidiary, Union Trustees Limited in five (5) tranches.

'In turn, and almost immediately upon receipt of each tranche, Union Trustees also transferred the N30.477 Billion to Falcon Securities Limited in five successive tranches who acquired over 620 million units of Union Bank shares,'.

According to SEC, investigations revealed that Falcon's acquisition of the 620 million units of Union Bank shares was funded by Union Bank using funds passed through Union Trustees and done at Union Bank's behest in order to artificially raise Union Bank's share price in anticipation of a future public offer.

It was found that Bartholomew Ebong, former Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer; Samuel Ayininuola, former Executive Director, Risk Management and Compliance; Henry Onyemem, former Managing Director, Union Trustees; Peter Ololo, Managing Director, Falcon and others devised a scheme whereby Falcon actively traded in Union Bank shares with intent to cause an increase in the share price and thereby violated Section 105 ISA, 2007, which prohibits activities that may create a false or misleading appearance of active trading in Union Bank shares, as well as the market and price of Union Bank's shares; and section 106 ISA 2007 which prohibits two or more transactions in the securities of a body corporate that have the effect of raising, lowering, maintaining or stabilizing the price of the securities.