I am disappointed with judgment of UK court; I am innocent – Akingbola

Channels Television  
Updated August 1, 2012

Former Chief Executive Officer of defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola on Wednesday said that he is disappointed with the judgment of a UK court which indicted him of corruptly enriching himself with the fund belonging to the bank he managed.

In a press statement signed by Charles Nwagwu, the media counsel to the embattled former bank chief, Mr Akingbola said that the Justice Michael Burton’s judgment “is at variance with all evidence at the hearing.”

He said that his lawyers “have been instructed to pursue an appeal of the judgment as well as consider all further legal options.”

The statement further said that “the judgment did not order Dr. Akingbola to pay any sum of money as at today contrary to claims, in the media reports.

“This civil case in London is the fourth variant of the various cases in the Nigerian courts emanating from the forceful takeover and subsequent sharing of the assets of Intercontinental Bank and the ruthless suppression of any opposition.

“Dr. Akingbola restates his Innocence and is determined to clear his name. He remains confident that the judicial system will eventually vindicate him.”

A High Court in London found Mr Akingbola guilty of misappropriating the funds belonging to former Intercontinental bank (now Access Bank) and diverting the money for his personal use.

Delivering the judgement in a fraud lawsuit filed by Access Bank against Mr Akingbola, the presiding judge, Justice Burton ruled comprehensively in favour of the bank in respect of all aspects of its claims against the defendant.

Justice Burton said Mr Akingbola is responsible for directing the bank to buy its own shares at a loss of about N145 billion, siphoning money to companies controlled by him or his family and using Intercontinental bank’s funds to buy real estate in the U.K.

According to the judgment, Mr Akingbola wrongfully caused the bank to acquire 3.7 billion of its own shares between 2007 and 2009, and that he directed about 68 million pounds to a group of companies in which he had an interest in order to help them pay off “substantial debts.”

Intercontinental Bank one of eight lenders bailed out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in 2009 after a debt crisis caused in part by loans to speculators in equities was later acquired by Access Bank.

The CBN had asked the U.K. to extradite Mr Akingbola after the bailout, though he later returned voluntarily to Nigeria in July 2010 to face the criminal case.

A trial in that matter is still ongoing.