SEC introduces electronic filing, makes other adjustments

The Securities and Exchange Commission has issued an advisory expected to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on capital market operations.

In a circular to capital market stakeholders on COVID-19, and made available to newsmen on Tuesday, SEC released a number of market-focused adjustments to be adopted in the interim in response to the effects of COVID-19.

They include filing and processing of applications electronically; extension of deadline on 2019 annual reports and Q1 2020 reports; postponement of the Q1 capital market committee meeting earlier scheduled for April 23, 2020.

The commission stated that applications should be filed electronically while pending applications and requests by the capital market operators for update of information would be processed via registration@sec.gov.ng.

However, fresh applications for registration of capital market operators had been suspended until further notice, SEC stated.

Also, returns would be filed electronically while the commission had approved a 60-day extension, in the first instance, for public companies and capital market operators to file their 2019 annual reports and Q1 2020 reports.

By the advisory, public companies are to take appropriate precautionary measures as recommended by the federal and state governments as well as the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control to ensure the safety of shareholders and participants at annual general meetings/extra-ordinary general meetings and other meetings that may be held during the prevalence of the pandemic.

“The first Capital Market Committee meeting for the year scheduled to hold on April 23, 2020, and all other meetings have been postponed indefinitely,” it stated.

It also said, “It is important to note that the foregoing guidelines are not exhaustive, but rather represent an outline of immediate actions the commission considers necessary to sustain the actualisation of its regulatory mandate and maintain the integrity of the Nigerian capital market during this challenging period.

“Accordingly, the commission will continue to issue updates to market stakeholders as appropriate. The commission will also continue to closely coordinate with other financial regulators and governmental authorities,” SEC stated.

SEC enjoined all capital market stakeholders to adhere to all recent directives on safety and social distancing.

The commission stated that it was focused on the following measures, amongst others: ensuring the continuity of its operations;  monitoring market functions and systemic risks; providing regulatory flexibility and guidance to issuers, trading platforms, capital market operators and other stakeholders impacted by COVID-19; and continuation of investor protection efforts and relevant enforcement actions,

The spread of the coronavirus worldwide has created a degree of uncertainty and anxiety as governments and health experts attempt to control the spread of the virus.

The World Health Organisation had warned that given Africa’s fragile health systems, the threat posed by COVID-19 on the continent was considerable.

This has led to various actions taken by the federal and state governments in Nigeria to curb its spread.

Source: Punchng, March 25, 2020