By Stellamaris Ashinze
The Personal Earning Annuity Scheme Class Action Group (PEASCAG) has appealed to the Federal Government to assist them in retrieving over N750 million investments trapped in the CashCraft Asset Management Ltd., (CAML).
The group made the appeal in a chat with journalists on Friday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that PEASCAG are a group of Nigerians from various walks of life, across multiple states and ethnic origins who invested in the Personal Earning Annuity Scheme (PEAS) by CAML.
PEAS is designed to meet the long-term investment needs of self-employed people, bussiness owners and individuals both in public and private sectors.
The Secretary of PEASCAG, Mr Wale Alarape, alleged that CAML had, under the guise of being a responsible investment company, dealt fraudulently with its members who bought into the scheme.
Alarape said the company had failed to fulfil its obligations to the members who invested in the scheme at the maturity of their investments.
He called on the Securities and Exchange Commisison (SEC) and the Nigerian Exchange Group to be more effective in their regulatory functions by ensuring prompt accountability by companies under their jurisdictions.
He alleged that CAML perpetrated the fraud for years, before being suspended by SEC for fraudulent practices.
Alarape alleged that CAML had employed all kinds of tricks, legal and otherwise, to ensure delayed justice.
“We, the executive of PEASCAG, have watched with dismay as some of our members and investors have died while waiting for justice.
“We have, however, decided to make a passionate appeal to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly.
“We want them to step into the matter and hasten the implementation of judgement through its agent, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and the Judiciary.
‘’The impact of such fraudulent acts has huge implications for the Nigerian capital market and could potentially make foreign investors lose confidence and withhold investment from the capital market.
“This is why the speedy resolution is of great importance at this time,’’ he said.
Also speaking, one of the investors, a chartered accountant, Mr Isaac Adegbenro, said he invested in the scheme to safeguard the future of his children.
Adegbenro said that he started the investment in 2008 and at a point overinvested.
“I was expecting my returns in 2025 before the firm was suspended by SEC for fraudulent activities,” he said.
Also speaking, an educator, Mrs Theresa Ndih, said she started investing in PEAS with the CAML in 2006, which was due for maturity in 2016.
Ndih said the members were informed in 2018 that SEC had placed an embargo on the scheme, stressing that no member had been paid till date.
A retired Principal Engineer of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), Engr. Charles Amaechi, told NAN that he invested about six million naira of his retirement benefits in the scheme.
Amaechi said he started a school building for his wife, who is a teacher, and wanted to roof the building, and went for his returns after maturity in 2022.
He said he was disappointed when he got to the office and got to know that there had been issues with CAML.
Responding to the allegations, Mr Ayo Balogun, the Managing Director, CAML, said that the firm was not fraudulent.
Balogun said CAML management had held several meetings with the investors on how to resolve the problems.
Balogun, who chose not to delve into details, citing court cases and absence of board approval, urged the investors to direct their calls and prayers to SEC.
He said the plea should be to SEC to lift all suspensions on the company’s operations for possible negotiations.
Reacting to the issue, SEC told NAN said that in the discharge of its function as the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, it received over 176 complaints from the investing public.
SEC said the complaints alleged the inability of CAML to meet up with its obligations.
The apex capital market regulator said investigation revealed that CAML was in breach of the Commission’s laws and rules regarding the offer of an unregistered product to the investing public.
SEC said CAML was directed to desist from selling the product and return all investors funds.
‘’The company failed to comply with the said directive and the matter has been subject of administrative and judicial hearings since then.
‘’The directors and some sponsored individuals and compliance officers of the affected CAML were suspended and other regulatory actions were meted to the defaulting directors and officers of the company,” it said. (NAN)