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NERC fines TCN N47.6m over audit report default

By Abimbola Fashakin, Lagos

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has fined the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) the sum of N47,670,000 over its failure to submit its 2013 and 2014 audited financial statements.

Acting Chairman of NERC, Dr. Anthony Akah, and the General Manager, Legal, Licensing and Enforcement, Mrs Olufunke Dinneh, stated that TCN has up to two weeks to pay the fine beginning from December 2, 2016 when the directive was signed.

They stated that the fine attracts five per cent interest daily after the due date.

In a statement on Thursday, they stated that TCN has violated “Section 63 (1) of the Electric Power Sector Reform Act, 2005 that stipulates “A licensee shall comply with the provisions of its license, regulations, codes and other requirements issued by NERC from time to time.”

Other infractions as contained in Directive 160 include Condition 4 and 5 of TCN’s Transmission Licence. Condition 4 stipulates that “Licensee shall furnish to the Commission information, in such a manner and at such times as the Commission may require” at the time and format as may be required by the Commission to perform its regulatory functions.

Condition 5 of TCN’s licence further directs it to submit audited financial reports to the Commission as detailed in its Transmission Licence.

Consequently, TCN is liable to N10, 000. 00 fine daily on each of the three grounds of infractions beginning from April 1, 2014 for failure to submit 2013 audited financial report and April 1, 2015 for 2014 audited financial report being the dates those reports were due for submission till December 2, 2016 when Directive 160 was signed.

“This gives a total fine of Forty Seven Million, Six Hundred and Seventy Thousand Naira, which shall be paid by TCN within two weeks from the date of this Directive. Failure to pay the fines within stipulated time shall attract additional interest of five per cent per day until the total fine is paid.”

Directive 160 stated further, “Take note that this Directive is without prejudice to other enforcement powers of the Commission, as contained in its extant laws, rules and regulations.”

In a summary of findings to the grounds of infractions, Directive 160 stated that NERC severally reminded TCN of its obligations to submit audited financial accounting statements for year 2013 and 2014.

However, TCN was found to have persistently refused or neglected to comply with the Commission’s written requests. The Commission, thereafter, issued a Notice of Intention to Commence Enforcement (NICE) dated November 17, 2016 requesting TCN to explain why it should not be sanctioned.

In its response, TCN said that the audit exercise has “since commence and is reaching its final stage” and that the documents would be submitted once the exercise was concluded. It, however, failed to provide detailed breakdown of activities and time schedule for the completion of the audit exercise so as to guide the Commission to decide on its request for extension of time.

“The Commission finds these responses inadequate and unsatisfactory,” according to Directive 160, hence the sanction.

Meanwhile, the acting Chairman, “has admonished all licensees in the sector to abide by their terms and conditions of licence because the era of treating the Commission’s orders, directives and regulations with levity is over.”

He added, “Any licensee that defaults would be sanctioned and those that refuse to pay this fine would be meted with stiffer enforcement actions in line with the Commission’s regulations and directives.”

Akah also observed that there has been observed significant improvement in the level of compliance by the licensees to our regulations especially on customer related issues.

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