Former Afribank director asks court to quash money laundry charges against him
An ex-director with the former Afribank Nigeria Plc (now Mainstreet bank), Chinedu Onyia on Wednesday asked a Federal High Court in Lagos to quash criminal charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr Onyia, in a motion against the charge, insisted that there is nothing on the face of the charge upon which he could stand trial, adding that the EFCC failed to provide credible material to link him with the commission of the alleged crime.
The former bank director is standing trial alongside former Managing Director of Afribank, Sebastian Adigwe, a stockbroker, Peter Ololo and his company, Falcon Securities Limited, former Chairman of Afribank, Osa Osunde and two other directors of the bank – Henry Arogundade and Isa Zailani.
The accused persons are standing trial over alleged abuse of office, banking malpractices and laundering of N55 billion.
According to the charges, Mr Adigwe was said to have conspired with the bank directors to grant several loan without adequate security.
Some of the companies that allegedly benefited from the “reckless” loan included Larix Company Limited, Suletical Nigeria Limited, Broworks Nigeria Limited, Alsmiths Nigeria Limited, Rehoboth Assets Limited and Falcon Securities Limited.
The accused were said to have failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the books of accounts of Afribank as at May 31, 2009, gave a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the bank as required by Sections 24 (1), 24 (2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act. Cap. B3, Laws of the Federation by understating the loan portfolio of the bank.
Specifically, Mr Adigwe had allegedly perpetrated shares fraud by creating a misleading appearance of active trading in the shares of Afribank on the Nigeria Stock Exchange.
He was accused of doing that by approving N2 billion credit facilities to Alsmiths Nigeria Limited to purchase large volume of Afribank’s shares, an offence contrary to Section 105 (1) (a) of the Investment and Securities Act, 2007 and punishable under Section 115 (a) of the same Act.
When the matter came up on Wednesday before Justice John Tsoho, Mr Onyia’s lawyer, Kola Obafemi urged the court to quash the charge against his client, and also discountenance the additional proof of evidence filed by the EFCC.
Mr Obafemi said that the EFCC in the charge alleged that Mr Onyia granted reckless credit facilities, but that the proof of evidence attached by the commission to the charge showed clearly that all facilities were duly authorized.
On the additional proof of evidence, Mr Obafemi argued that it was unfair on the part of the EFCC to file additional evidence against his client after he had pleaded to the charge, and urged the court to take a strong stand on it; otherwise, there would be no end to the filing of papers.
Reacting to the submission by the counsel to the former bank director, the EFCC’s lawyer, K.U.K Ekwueme urged the court to dismiss the two applications filed by Mr Onyia, adding that the man had in his statement to the anti-graft agency, admitted signing on to the approval of credit facilities in the case.