Court Adjourns ‘Bank Hacker’s’ Trial Till February 18

 

Justice Olubunmi Abike-Fadipe of the Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos has adjourned the trial of one Chris Ihebuzo for offences bordering on stealing, demanding property by written threat, attempt to commit a felony, unauthorised access to computer material, unauthorised modification of computer material, and unauthorised access with intent to commit and facilitate commission of further offences, till February 18, 2022.

Ihebuzo, known as the “Access Bank hacker”, following his viral video in which he bragged of gaining access into the bank’s database and extracting data of over 2,000 customers, including their Bank Verification Numbers, BVNs, was arrested by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC sometime in September 2020.

The bank had petitioned the EFCC and following the conclusion of investigations, seven counts were drafted against him to which he pleaded “not guilty”.

Read Also: Adulterated Fuel: ‘There Will Be A Major Investigation,’ Says Petroleum Minister

 

One of the counts read: “Chris Ihebuzo, sometime in August 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud had in your possession Access Bank Public Liability Company’s document, containing the phone numbers, bank account numbers and biometrics verification numbers of Access Bank customers.”

Another count read: “Chris Ihebuzo, sometime in August 2020 in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to extort money from Access Bank Plc knowingly sent an electronic mail to the management of Access Bank Plc demanding money from them.”

At the resumed sitting on February 4, 2022, an operative of the EFCC, Omotosho Adewunmi, testifying as the second prosecution witness, narrated how the defendant was arrested following the action on the petition from the bank.

Led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Franklin Ofoma, she further told the court that several documents were recovered from him as well as an HP laptop, chips, and discs.

Following the prayer of the prosecution to tender them as Exhibit against the defendant, Justice Abike-Fadipe admitted them as Exhibit P7 to P15.

The case has been adjourned till February 18 and March 11, 2022, for continuation of trial.

Access Bank Closes Branch After Visitor Tested Positive To COVID-19

 

Access Bank has closed its branch in Ligali Ayorinde Street of Victoria Island, Lagos State, after one of its visitors tested positive to COVID-19.

The bank in a statement on Monday revealed that the individual whose identity was not disclosed, visited the organisation when he was symptom-free.

It noted that the patient is being monitored at the Isolation Centre in Yaba, Lagos State, Nigeria.

The statement further called on those who may have come in contact with the infected person to self-isolate as the bank begins disinfection of the affected branch.

READ ALSO: Confirmed Cases Of COVID-19 In Nigeria Rise To 36

“We have confirmed that an individual who visited our Ligali Ayorinde branch on Monday 16th March 2020, has tested positive for coronavirus,” the bank explained.

“He was symptom-free as at the time of the and he is currently being monitored at an Isolation Centre in Yaba.”

As at the time of publishing this report, Nigeria has 36 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has barred international flights in a bid to curb the outbreak of the disease.

Diamond Bank Announces Merger With Access Bank

 

The Board of Diamond Bank PLC has announced plans to merge its operations with Access Bank.

The bank disclosed this in a statement on Monday by the company’s Secretary and Legal Adviser, Uzoma Uja.

According to Diamond Bank, the decision follows a strategic review leading to a competitive process, as the preferred bidder with respect to a potential merger of the two banks (“the merger”) that will create Nigeria and Africa’s largest retail bank by customers.

“The Board of Diamond Bank believes that the merger is in the best interest of all stakeholders including, employees, customers, depositors and shareholders”.

Read Full Statement Below

Statement Regarding Scheme To Merge With Access Bank

The Board of Diamond Bank Plc (“Diamond Bank”) today announces that following a strategic review leading to a competitive process, the Board has selected Access Bank Plc (“Access Bank”) as the preferred bidder with respect to a potential merger of the two banks (“the merger”) that will create Nigeria and Africa’s largest retail bank by customers.

The Board of Diamond Bank believes that the merger is in the best interest of all stakeholders including, employees, customers, depositors and shareholders and has agreed to recommend the offer to Diamond Bank’s shareholders. Completion of the merger is subject to certain shareholder and regulatory approvals.

The proposed merger would involve Access Bank acquiring the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank in exchange for a combination of cash and shares in Access Bank via a Scheme of Merger. Based on the agreement reached by the Boards of the two financial institutions, Diamond Bank shareholders will receive a consideration of N3.13 per share, comprising of N1.00 per share in cash and the allotment of two (2) New Access Bank ordinary shares for every seven (7) Diamond Bank ordinary shares held as at the Implementation Date. The offer represents a premium of 260% to the closing market price of N0.87 per share of Diamond Bank on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (“NSE”) as of December 13, 2018, the date of the final binding offer.

Immediately following completion of the merger, Diamond Bank would be absorbed into Access Bank and it will cease to exist under Nigerian law. The current listing of Diamond Bank’s shares on the NSE and the listing of Diamond Bank’s global depositary receipts on the London Stock Exchange will be cancelled, upon the merger becoming effective.

Diamond Bank expects the transaction to be completed in the first half of 2019.

We will keep the market updated with any new development.

Yours faithfully, For: DIAMOND BANK PLC

Uzoma Uja Company Secretary/Legal Adviser

N541bn Debt: Banks Reject Etisalat Nigeria’s Loan Restructuring Plan

NCC, CBN Get Reprieve For EtisalatThe Etisalat Group, parent company of Etisalat Nigeria, has informed the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange that a group of Nigerian commercial banks have refused to agree to the restructuring of 541 billion Naira debt owed by the company.

A statement issued on Tuesday by the telecoms group, said its total shares in the subsidiary, Etisalat Nigeria have been transferred to United Capital Trustees Limited.

The deadline for the transfer of the shares has been agreed to extend till 5:00 pm Nigerian time on Friday, June 23.

Abu-Dhabi based Etisalat group established Etisalat Nigeria with effective 45 per cent and 25 per cent ordinary and preference shares respectively.

Reuters quoted an official of Etisalat Nigeria as saying that discussions with the group of Nigerian commercial lenders are ongoing to find a ”non-disruptive” solution to the 1.2 billion U.S. dollar-debt.

Court Orders Forfeiture Of Diezani’s Allegedly Stolen $153m

Court Orders Forfeiture Of Diezani's Allegedly Stolen FundsA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has ordered the temporary forfeiture of the sum of $153,310,000, which a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueze, allegedly siphoned from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and stashed in three banks in the country.

Out of the allegedly stolen $153.3m, a sum of N23,446, 300,000 was said to have been kept in Sterling Bank Plc, N9,080,000,000 in First Bank Plc and $5m in Access Bank Plc.

After ordering the temporary forfeiture of the monies to the Federal Government on Friday, Justice Muslim Hassan gave Sterling Bank and any other interested party 14 days to appear before him to prove the legitimacy of the monies, failing which the funds would be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judge made the order in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which appeared before him on Friday with an ex-parte application seeking the temporary forfeiture of the funds.

In a nine-paragraph affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application, an EFCC investigator, Moses Awolusi, claimed that the anti-graft agency discovered through its investigations how sometime in December 2014 Diezani invited a former Managing Director of Fidelity Bank Plc, Nnamdi Okonkwo, to her office where they hatched the plan of how a cash sum of $153,310,000 would be moved from NNPC to Okonkwo to be saved for Diezani.

According to Awolusi, Diezani instructed Okonkwo to ensure that the money was “neither credited into any known account nor captured in any transaction platforms” of Fidelity Bank.

Awolusi said Okonkwo accepted and implemented the deal leading to the movement of $153,310,000 from NNPC to Fidelity Bank.

He said two former Group Executive Directors of Finance and Account of NNPC, B.O.N. Otti and Stanley Lawson, helped Diezani to move the cash from NNPC, Abuja to the headquarters of Fidelity Bank in Lagos.

Awolusi said in a desperate bid to conceal the source of the money, Okonkwo, upon receiving it, instructed the Country Head of Fidelity Bank, Mr Martin Izuogbe, to take $113,310,000 cash out of the money to the Executive Director, Commercial and Institutional Bank, Sterling Bank Plc, Lanre Adesanya, to keep.

He said the remaining $40million was taken in cash to the Executive Director, Public Sector Accountant, First Bank, Dauda Lawal, to keep.

The investigator said out of the $113,310,000 handed over to Adesanya, a sum of $108,310,000 was invested in an off balance sheet investment using Sterling Asset Management Trustees Limited.

He said the $108,310,000 was subsequently changed to N23,446, 300,000 and saved in Sterling Bank.

Awolusi said the EFCC had recovered the N23.4bn in draft and had registered it as an exhibit marked, EFCC 01.

The investigator said the EFCC had also recovered another $5million out of the money kept with the MD of Access Bank Plc, Mr Herbert Wigwe.

He said the $5m was recovered in draft and had been registered as an exhibit marked, EFCC 02.

According to him, First Bank’s ED, Lawal, had converted the $40million kept with him to N9,080,000,000.

Awolusi, however, said that the EFCC had recovered that also in draft and registered it as Exhibit EFCC 03.

Moving the ex-parte application on Friday, the EFCC lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, urged Justice Hassan to order the temporary forfeiture of the funds to the Federal Government and to order Sterling Bank and Lawal, who were joined as defendants in the application, as well as any other interested parties, to appear in court within two weeks to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.

Oyedepo, who said the application was brought pursuant to Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act No. 14, 2006 and Section 44(2)(‘) of the 1999 Constitution, said granting the application was in the best interest of justice.

After hearing him out, Justice Hassan granted the order and adjourned till January 24, 2016 for the respondents to appear in court to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.‎

Police Foil Bank Robbery, Arrest Bank Staff, Security Men

Police Foil Bank Robbery, Arrest Bank Staff, Security MenThe Police in Rivers State have arrested a senior bank staff and security personnel attached to the bank involved in the foiled armed robbery attack on an Access Bank branch in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.

According to Police Public Relations Officer, DCP Don Awunah, caches of arms and ammunition were also recovered from the suspects who are five in number.

He stated that the five suspects, along with others still at large, stormed a branch of Access Bank in Port Harcourt, on December 22, 2016 relying on information and active involvement of the staff of the bank.

They successfully broke down the well-fortified security doors and barriers and took over the banking hall.

“They were almost pulling down the vault of the bank and other strong rooms in the bank with use of gas cylinder welding machine and iron cutters before the joint Police Teams of IGP’S Intelligence Response Team and Policemen from Rivers state Police Command swiftly moved in and dislodged them,” he stated.

The Police foiled the armed robbery attack and “made a prompt arrest of three of the suspects at the scene; namely Samuel Nwala ‘M’ 28 years, Lucky Ukwuoma ‘M’ 26 years, Kaale Taagabah ‘M’ 27 years”.

“In the course of thorough investigation into the foiled armed robbery attack on the bank, the principal suspect (Samuel Ndudiri ‘M’ 28 years) who is a staff of the bank and the mastermind of the armed robbery attack was subsequently arrested based on the confessional statements volunteered by the three suspects arrested at the scene.

“The arrest of the principal suspect led to the arrest of Ex SGT Promise Ukwuoma who participated actively in the armed robbery attack on the bank.

“Two AK47 riffles and the ammunition were recovered from him.

“All the suspects have volunteered confessional and useful statements to the Police about the various criminal roles they played in the commission of the crime.

“However, concerted efforts are being intensified to arrest other suspects still at large and bring them to justice.

“The case will be charged to court on completion of investigation,” he stated.

Asides the two AK47 rifles and magazines fully loaded with ammunition, other items recovered from the suspects are a welding machine, two gas cylinders and iron cutters, a big chisel, cutting saw, hammer, and acetylene gas powder.

MPC Raises Monetary Policy Rate To 12%

MPCThe Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Nigeria has raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 12% from 11%.

This is an outcome of its 2-day meeting which started on Monday in Abuja, the nation’s capital; the second for the year 2016.

At the last meeting in January, the MPC maintained the monetary policy rate, the cash reserve requirement, and the liquidity ratio at 11%, 20% and 30% respectively.

The Governor of the central bank said that the key decisions taking by the regulator were part of measures for achieving fiscal and financial stability.

Access Bank Releases Outlook On MPC Meeting

Access BankOne of Nigeria’s tier-one listed commercial lender, Access Bank has released its outlook on the two-day monetary policy meeting of the Central Bank.

The bank expects the committee to retain the headline interest rate at 11% and leave the lending corridor of plus 200 basis points and minus 700 basis points unchanged.

Analysts at Access Bank believe the financial regulator will continue to tolerate above 9% inflation target in a bid to keep monetary conditions relatively loose in support of the economy.

Access Bank sees the cash reserve ratio and liquidity ratio left unchanged and anticipates no change in the foreign exchange policy position of the Central Bank.

The 249th meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee kicks off on Monday in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

Economic and financial analysts believe the volatility of the Naira at the foreign exchange market and the double-digit inflation recorded in February would top the agenda at the two-day meeting.

At the last meeting in January, the MPC maintained the monetary policy rate, the cash reserve requirement, and the liquidity ratio at 11%, 20%, and 30% respectively.

The outcome of the meeting will be announced on Tuesday, March 22,2016.

 

Four Nigerian Banks Among Global Top 500 Banking Brands

Nigerian BanksFirst Bank of Nigeria ranks 320 in the 2016 top 500 banking brands ranking published by the Banker Magazine of Financial Times Group.

The bank moved up the scale 16 places from 336th position in 2015 to retain its number one banking brand ranking in Nigeria for the fifth consecutive year.

A press release from the country representative of the Banker Magazine in Nigeria, Kunle Ogedengbe, added that three other Nigerian banks also made the ranking.

They are Guaranty Trust Bank which moved to 389th position, Zenith Bank at 392nd, and United Bank for Africa at the 447th position.

Access Bank that made the ranking at 496th position in 2015 dropped from the 2016 ranking.

According to The Banker magazine, Nigeria has the highest brand value increase of $249m among the five countries in Africa that made the ranking.

Egypt moved up by $239m; Togo gained $134m while South Africa and Morocco lost $878mn and $213m.

The top 10 banks in the world are Well Fargo (USA); ICBC (China); China Construction Bank; Agricultural Bank of China; Chase (USA); Bank of China; Bank of America; Citi (USA); HSBC (UK); and Barclays (UK).

N8b Currency Scam: EFCC To Arraign 6 CBN Bosses, 16 Others

EFCCThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to charge six top officials of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and 16 others to a Federal High Court on June 2, for a sum of 8b Naira currency fraud.

The commission said in a statement signed by its Head of Media & Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, on Sunday that it would bring the executives before the court for their involvement in the theft and re-circulation of defaced and mutilated currencies.

According to the EFCC, “The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) has concluded arrangement to arraign in court, five top executives of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), implicated in a mega scam involving the theft and re-circulation of defaced and mutilated currencies.

“The suspects drawn from various business units of the apex bank are to be docked by the anti-graft agency before a Federal High Court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, from Tuesday June 2, 2015 to Thursday June 4, 2015.

“They include Patience Okoro Eye (Abuja), Afolabi Olufemi (Lagos), Kolawole Babalola (Ibadan), Olaniran Muniru Adeola (Ibadan), Fatai Yusuf Adekunle (Head, Security, CBN, (Ibadan) and Ilori Adekunle Sunday, (Akure).”

The commission explained further that “the remaining 16 suspects were drawn from various commercial banks, who were found to have conspired with the CBN executives to swing the heist. All the suspects, who are currently in the custody of the EFCC, are now ruing the day they literally allowed greed and craze for materialism to becloud their sense of judgment and responsibility, when they elected to help themselves to tones of defaced Naira notes.

“Instead of carrying out the statutory instruction to destroy the currency, they substituted it with newspapers neatly cut to Naira sizes and proceeded to recycle the defaced and mutilated currency. The fraud is partly to blame for the failure of government monetary policy over the years as currency mop up exercises by the apex bank failed to check the inflationary pressure on the economy.”

“The lid on the scam which was widely suspected to have gone on unchecked for years, was blown on November 3, 2014 via a petition to the EFCC alleging that over N6, 575, 549, 370.00 (Six Billion, Five Hundred and Seventy-Five Million, Five-Hundred and Forty-Nine Thousand, Three Hundred and Seventy Naira) was cornered and discreetly recycled by light fingered top executives of the CBN at the Ibadan branch.

“The suspects, who were members of the Briquetting Panel, plotted their way to infamy on September 8, 2014, while carrying out a Briquetting exercise at the CBN Branch, Ibadan. In banking parlance, Briquetting is disintegration and destruction of counted and audited dirty notes. By this practice, depositor banks usually take mutilated notes to the CBN in exchange for fresh notes equivalent of the amount deposited.

“The depositor banks in this instance, are Zenith Bank, FCMB, Wema Bank, Access Bank, First Bank, Skye Bank, Ecobank and Sterling Bank. But while carrying out the assignment, the team were alleged to have found one of the currency boxes filled only with old newspapers rather than 20 bundles of N1000 notes. A similar case, according to investigation, had been discovered on September 22, 2014 when a box that was supposed to contain N500 notes to the tune of N5billion was filled with old newspapers,” the commission said.

The EFCC stressed further that “unlike in the past, this fraud could not be swept under the carpet, as a member of the Briquetting Panel from the Osogbo branch blew the lid on the illicit deal.

“In a statement, the informant stated that the exercise was designed to last between August 4 and 8, 2014. The 35-year-old, however, stated that she discovered a strange ‘sight’ while opening the third box on the second day of the exercise. It was a discovery that beat her ken.

“A five count charge awaits the suspects as they prepare to face the wrath of the law.”

Two Ex-bankers Bag 43 Years Jail Term For N9.7M Fraud

EFCC operatives at workJustice Dije Abdu Aboki of the Kano State High Court on Thursday convicted and sentenced Bright Evobai and Okechukwu Okolo to 43 years imprisonment.

This is according to a press release by the Head, Media & Publicity of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren.

Evobai and Okolo were arraigned by the EFCC on November 27, 2012 on an eight count charge.

The convicts, former employees of Intercontinental Bank Plc (now Access Bank), conspired and defrauded the bank to the tune of N9, 700, 000 (Nine Million Seven Hundred Thousand Naira Only). They allegedly used stolen letterhead paper belonging to Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano and forged the signatures of four designated signatories including one of their superiors at the bank, to siphon fund from the hospital’s fixed deposit account.

In an attempt to cover their track, they distributed the proceeds of their crime into five different accounts within the branch.

They both pleaded not guilty upon arraignment.

In the course of trial, the prosecution called five witnesses to prove its case.

Justice Aboki, in his ruling, found them guilty as charged and sentenced both to seven years imprisonment on counts 1,2,3,4,5,6 with no option of fine while the convicts are to serve six months imprisonment each, on count seven and eight  with an option of N50,000 (Fifty Thousand Naira ) and N20, 000 (Twenty Thousand Naira).

The sentences are to run concurrently.

The convicts were also ordered to pay N9.7million in restitution to the bank.

 

N212b Fraud: Court Refuses To Register Foreign Judgment Against Akingbola

A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere area of Lagos Island, today discharged an ex-parte order which ordered the former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, Erastus Akingbola to pay Access Bank £654 million that’s about N212.2bn.

The High Court of Justice, Queens Bench in London, had on August 1, 2012, ordered Mr Akingbola to pay Access Bank the money for some fraudulent practices committed when he was in charge of the defunct Intercontinental bank which was acquired by Access Bank on the 31st of January 2012.

In a bid to enforce the London Court judgment in Nigeria, Access Bank had approached Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of the Lagos High Court with an ex-parte application. In the ex-parte application, the bank sought to register the foreign judgment and the accompanying order of Justice Michael Burton, dated September 13, 2012.
Justice Oyebanji had granted the request of Access Bank by registering the London judgment and ordering Mr Akingbola to pay the judgment sum.

Dissatisfied with the decision, Mr Akingbola, through his lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), filed an application before Justice Babajide Candide-Johnson of the same court seeking to quash the registration of the foreign judgment for lack of jurisdiction.

In a ruling on the application today, Justice Candide-Johnson discharged the ex-parte order on the grounds that the subject matter of the London judgment, an unlawful share purchase orchestrated by Intercontinental Bank and Mr Akingbola’s breach of statutory duties as director of the Bank were matters relating to the provisions of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA), which the British judge admitted he relied totally on but which only Nigerian Courts and specifically the Federal High Court could properly exercise jurisdiction.

Justice Candide-Johnson then held that since Federal High Courts alone have exclusive jurisdiction on CAMA related cases, his court could not have entertained the claims leading up to the judgment and consequently could not register same as that would make it a judgment of the court.

The judge, however, refused Mr Akingbola’s application seeking to restrain Access Bank from enforcing the London judgment in any other court.