By Ngozi Onyeakusi — The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday sealed off the premises of a Lagos-based company, Growing Circle International, for allegedly engaging in illegal fund management activities.

The commission’s Acting Head, Corporate Communications, Mrs. Efe Ebelo, while speaking at the company’s premises shortly after its seal off, said the step was taken by the regulatory institution for carrying out illegal investment operations covered within fund management without registration with the apex regulator.

According to her, investigations by the commission proved that the company’s activities also constituted an infraction of the Investments and Securities Act (ISA), 2007.

She explained: “They do not have registration with SEC and the commission has powers according to Section 13 (w) of ISA 2007, to shut down any company carrying out capital market activities without due registration.

“Nigerian laws provide that business activities in the country have to be regulated, in this case SEC is supposed to regulate them,” Ebelo stressed.

The SEC’s spokesperson disclosed that the company, which is involved in networking business, was also into other business activities.

Ebelo clarified further: “For a new entrant, registration is N10,000 and the person is not entitled to products while the second category has a registration fee of N16,000 that entitles the registrant to receive products.

“For anyone to come under the company, he has to come under an up liner since the company engages in networking business.

“For the networking business, the least stage is a starter point with minimum registration of 50 dollars with an incentive of 15 dollars for a member who introduced two down liners,’’ she added.

According to her, the company also engages in free seminars for people to learn more about the products and the money making business with an unbeatable compensation plan and huge bonuses.

She pointed out, however, that after registration, some people claimed they did not get any product from the company and all efforts to retrieve their funds proved abortive, hence the complaint to SEC.

Ebelo explained that the closure of the company’s premises, located No. 6, Mojidi Street, off Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos, was to prevent unlawful activities of the company against unsuspecting investors.

While urging investors to ensure they deal only with registered fund managers with SEC, she confirmed that “the account of the company has been frozen, the promoters have been arrested by the Nigeria Police Force and are undergoing interrogation.”