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$868,000 mystery: Yacht, Rolexes bought by Nigeria stock exchange disappear

A yacht and dozens of Rolex watches bought by Nigeria’s stock exchange for a total of more than $868,000 went missing during an outbreak of share-price fixing, fraudulent accounting and insider trading, according to a report obtained by Reuters.

The yacht, worth $235,000, was meant to be given as a gift during an award ceremony in 2008, but there are no records of anyone receiving it, according to Arunma Oteh, director general of Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission. The exchange also bought 165 Rolexes as prizes, but only 73 were actually presented.


"The outstanding 92 Rolex watches valued at 99.5 million naira (about $632,950) remain unaccounted for," Oteh said in a report that she presented to a Nigerian House of Representatives' committee that is investigating the scandal. The hearing took place Monday and Oteh’s report was obtained by Reuters Tuesday.

The abuses led to a financial crisis in 2008 and 2009 that saw shares lose 60 percent of their value in the year after the market peaked in March 2008.

"There were incidences of financial skimming, misappropriation, false accounting, misrepresentation, and questionable transactions," Oteh said in the report, according to Reuters.

She added that the market abuses were the “primary reasons for the continuation of the investor apathy that we see today."

The Nigerian Tribune newspaper reported Wednesday that Oteh had refused to appear at the hearing again on Tuesday and the chairman of the committee, Ibrahim Tukur El-Sudi, had threatened to arrest her.

Oteh wrote to the committee saying she was unable to attend the ongoing hearing Tuesday as she was going to a meeting about the national economy chaired by the country's president, Goodluck Jonathan, according the paper.

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