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Court bars FRCN from interfering in Stanbic IBTC operations

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday barred the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) from interfering in the operations of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc…

A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday barred the Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRCN) from interfering in the operations of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc pending the final determination of a suit brought by the company against the regulatory agency.
 Justice Ibrahim Buba, in a ruling on the motion for interlocutory injunction filed by Stanbic IBTC Holdings, also restrained the FRCN from inviting the entire directors of IBTC Holdings to any meeting in connection with any statutory investigation of the bank’s financial statements until the final determination of the pending suit.
 The judge, however, refused to grant the third leg of the reliefs sought by the company with regards to restraining the agency from taking any step to enforce the invitation by the council that the company attends a meeting on October 16, 2015.
 Stanbic IBTC Holdings had dragged the FRCN and the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP) to court over allegations of material mis-statements in its financial accounts, which culminated in a N1 billion fine.
 During the proceeding, Justice Buba also granted an application by the Stanbic IBTC Holdings to amend its originating summons. This was after dismissing the objections of FRCN’s lawyer, Olusina Sofola (SAN) to the application.
 The lawyer had argued that the application for amendment was akin to putting something on a dead issue. “The issue complained about in the originating summons by the plaintiff is the legality of the meeting called by the defendant. The meeting was called and they said they will not attend and as far as we are concerned, the issue is dead since the day has come and gone. The amendment is to revive what is already dead. The court should not allow it,” Sofola said.
 He added that if the plaintiff has any fresh grievances, it should file a fresh suit. He then urged the court to reject the request for an amendment.
 Counsel to Stanbic IBTC Holdings, Fidelis Odita (SAN), while urging the court to allow the amendment, said that the powers of the court to grant the request could be exercised at anytime as long as judgment had not yet been delivered in the suit.
 The request for amendment of the plaintiff’s originating summons was eventually granted by Justice Buba.
 In the main suit, the bank asked the court to determine whether the FRCN has the power to impose a fine of N1bn on it.
 The bank also wanted the court to determine whether or not the FRCN has the power to license directors and other office holders of public interest entities, and to determine if the regulatory agency also has the power to suspend the said licence by suspending a director or other office holders of a public interest entity.
 The matter was adjourned till Friday 6 November, 2015.

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