Finance Ministry panel recommends dismissal of suspended SEC boss

An administrative panel of inquiry set up last November to investigate allegations of financial impropriety and abuse of office against the suspended Director-General of the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Mounir Gwarzo, has recommended his immediate dismissal from the public service.
A copy of the panel’s report which is to be presented to President Muhammadu Buhari was seen by PREMIUM TIMES, on Tuesday.
Some of the panel’s key recommendations include that the embattled former SEC DG, who is currently on suspension, be referred to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), for further investigation for allegedly using his position to influence the award of contracts to a company he has personal interest.
The panel, headed by the permanent secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, also recommended that Gwarzo to refund about N104.9 million allegedly collected illegally as severance package while still in office.
Gwarzo was suspended by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, for alleged corrupt acts.
But he denies the claims, and says he was punished after refusing Adeosun’s directive to suspend audit into oil firm, Oando.
The company has been enmeshed in a shareholder crisis, amidst allegations of fraud.
On Tuesday, a public hearing into Gwarzo’s suspension and allegation against the minister opened at the House of Representatives.
The report is expected to the forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The panel report said its recommendation for Mr. Gwarzo’s sack was based on findings which confirmed he breached paragraphs 313 and 316(4) of the Financial Regulations (Government Notice No. 219 of 27th October, 2009) by engaging in extra budgetary expenditure without appropriate approval.
It recommended that Gwarzo be discharged on allegation that he awarded contracts to Medusa Investments Limited and other companies to which no relationship was sufficiently established linking him.
On details of its observations and findings, the panel said documents obtained at the Corporate Affairs Commission revealed that Gwarzo was still a director of Outbound Investments Limited both as a major shareholder with N1.2 million equity as at the date of the search and a director.
The panel said Gwarzo’s purported letter of resignation from the company of December 19, 2012 was not part of the CAC’s records on the date of the inquiry.
“A copy of the letter dated 7th November, 2017 from CAC conveying to the Panel Certified True Copies of CO 7 (Particulars of Directors and of any changes therein) and the Return of allotment of Shares (Form CO 2) confirming Mounir H. Gwarzo’s status in the Company as Director and shareholder are attached,” the panel said in the report.
Besides, the panel said it equally discovered from the account opening mandate from GTBank in respect of Medusa Investment Limited that Gwarzo was still the signatory to account No. 322324264/1/110 maintained by the company.
The panel said when Gwarzo was confronted with details about his request as director of the company on July 24, 2015, to the bank for change of Accounting Officer, and request of August 16, 2016 for Naira Credit Card for directors of the company, he admitted writing the letters.
But, he claimed “it was a regrettable action.”
On his relationship with Outbound Investments Limited, the panel said Mr. Gwarzo had said he was only representing his wife on the board of the company, which allegedly belongs to the wife’s family
Gwarzo was suspended from office last November along with two management staff of the Commission – Abdulsalam Naif Habu, Head of Media Division, and Anastasia Omozele Braimoh, Head of Legal Department.
Both were alleged to have engaged in financial impropriety in the Commission.
The panel in its recommendations said its findings and supporting documents concerning allegations levelled against the two senior officials should be referred to SEC for appropriate disciplinary action in line with the provisions of the Staff Manual.

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