N6.8bn Fraud: EFCC’s Third Witness Testifies Against Ex-NAMA MD, Ibrahim Abdulsalam, Others

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has called its third prosecution witness, a former compliance officer with Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB) Plc, Kayode Olanrewaju, in the trial of the former Managing Director of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Ibrahim Abdulsalam and six others over alleged N6.8bn fraud. 

Abdulsalam is charged alongside other defendants including a former NAMA General Manager of Procurement, Olumuyiwa Adegorite, his wife, Joy Adegorite and a former General Manager of Finance, Segun Agbolade. Others are a former acting General Manager of ICT, Bolaniran Akinribido, and Sesebor Abiodun.

Also charged are two Limited Liability companies, Randville investment Ltd, and Multeng Travels and Tours Ltd.

The defendants were charged by the EFCC before a Federal High Court, Lagos on a 24-count amended charge, bordering on conspiracy, fraud, forgery and unlawful conversion of the funds.

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At the resumed trial of the defendants on Wednesday, the former GTB Compliance Officer, while being led-in-evidence by the EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, told the court that on March 15, 2016, his former employer received a letter from the anti-graft agency, requesting for an inquiry on some documents.

Olanrewaju said after receiving the letter, it was forwarded to the Bank’s Business Unit, which is responsible for handling foreign operations, to enable them to ascertain if the duty receipts were issued by the bank.

The prosecution witness also told the court that from the internal investigation conducted by the bank, the bank could not confirm any of the documents in its record.

He added that upon conclusion of the investigation, his former employer in a letter dated March 23, 2016, responded back to the EFCC that the documents said to have been issued by the bank could not be found in the bank’s record.

After this testimony, the EFCC prosecutor urged the court to admit his agency’s letter to GTB and the bank’s response.

There was no opposition from the defense to this request and Justice Babs Kuewumi, subsequently admitted the documents and marked it as exhibits.

When asked if he made any inquiry from the Nigeria Customs Services’ (NCS) on the authenticity of the documents, the witness said: “I can’t confirm but my bank has a way of checking the authenticity of any documents which is done by the Bank’s Business Unit.

Further hearing of the matter has been adjourned till May 2 and 3.

Background

The EFCC in one of the 24 count criminal charges, alleged that all the defendants and one Nnamdi Udoh still at large, between January 31, 2013, and September 3, 2015, with intent to defraud and by false pretense, conspired to induce the Agency to deliver the sum of N2, 847, 523, 975 billion, to Delosa Limited, Air Sea Delivery Limited and Sea Schedules Systems Ltd under the pretense that the said sum represented the cost of clearing consignments belonging to the Agency.

The defendants were also alleged to have converted various sums of money amounting to N4, 003, 532, 608.90 belonging to the Agency, to their personal use.

The EFCC also alleged in the charge that the defendants on December 19, 2014, forged a “Guaranty Trust Bank Plc Apapa 2-Burma road NCS Payment Acknowledgement Receipt Document.

EFCC Uncovers Four Billion Naira Through Whistle-blower

EFCC Uncovers Four Billion Naira Through Whistle-BlowerThe Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says a tip-off by a whistle-blower on Tuesday, led to another discovery of a huge sum of four billion Naira suspected to be proceeds of crime.

According to a statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, investigations as to the owner of the funds revealed that the money belongs to a former deputy governorship candidate in Niger State, whose the name was not disclosed.

“The suspect uses the names of two companies – Katah Property & Investment Limited and Sadiq Air Travel Agency – in laundering the funds.

“Each of the company has two billion Naira fixed in its deposit account domiciled in Guaranty Trust Bank.

“The suspected owner of the account and the account officer are currently on the run,” the statement said.

Court Adjourns Trial Of Ladoja, Aide Till March 1

Court, Rashidi Ladoja, Waheed Akanbi, FraudThe Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed March 1 for the commencement of trial of former Oyo State Governor, Mr Rashidi Ladoja, alongside one of his aides, Waheed Akanbi, over an alleged 4.7 billion Naira fraud.

The date was fixed after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Oluwafemi Olabisi, urged the court for an adjournment to enable him supply to the defence team the names of witnesses that would testify in the matter.

The former governor and his aide were arraigned before the court by the EFCC on an amended eight-count charge of alleged money laundering and unlawful conversion of funds belonging to the Oyo State government.

Mr Ladoja and Mr Akanbi, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Attempts made by the prosecution counsel on Tuesday to examine the first prosecution witness in the case was rebutted by lawyers to the defendants, Mr Bolaji Onilenla and Mr Olumide Fusika.

The lawyers argued that the witness could not testify on grounds that his name was not on the list of witnesses earlier supplied to them by the anti-graft agency in 2008.

They also insisted that what the EFCC was trying to do was to set an ambush for them, stating that it was contrary to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act.

Although Mr Olabisi admitted the error, he pointed out that as at the time they filed the case nine years ago, the Administration of Criminal Justice Law had not been promulgated.

He therefore urged the court to adjourn the proceedings to enable him file additional proof of evidence to rectify the error.

After listening to the counsel, Justice Idris adjourned the case till March 1 for commencement of trial.

Offences

  • In one of the counts, Ladoja and Akanbi were accused of converting a sum of 1,932,940,032.48 Naira belonging to Oyo State government to theirs, using a Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited.
  • The EFCC claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007, despite their knowledge that it was proceeds of a criminal conduct.
  • In another instance, the former governor was accused of removing a sum of £600,000 from the state coffers in 2007 and sent it to one Bimpe Ladoja, who was at the time in London.
  • He was also accused of converting a sum of 42 million naira belonging to the state to his own and subsequently used it to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.
  • Mr Ladoja was also accused of converting a sum of 728,600,000 Naira and another 77,850,000 Naira at separate times in 2007 to his own.
  • The EFCC claimed that he transferred the 77, 850,000 Naira to one Bistrum Investments, which he nominated to help him purchase a property named Quarter 361 in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
  • The anti-graft agency stated that the offences are contrary to sections 17(a) and 18(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
  • They added that the crimes are liable to be punished under sections 14(1), 16(a)(b) and 18(2) of the same act.

GTB Seeks Redemption Of $500 Million Eurobond

GTBGuaranty Trust Bank (GTB) has launched a tender offer to repay a $500 million Eurobond early, a move to deploy its available Dollar liquidity ahead of the debt’s maturity.

The bank said the notes, priced to yield 7.5 per cent, were due to mature in May 2016 and the tender was voluntary.

It said in a tender notice that the bank would maintain cash to repay any outstanding debt not tendered.

The results of the tender offer will be announced on February 11.

NLNG Eyes $1.5 Bln Debut Ship Yard In Nigeria

Ship_YardThe Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Company (NLNG) is sponsoring the construction of the first major ship yard in Nigeria at the cost of $1.5 billion, in its attempt to turn the country into a hub for maritime operations on the continent.

Nigeria does not have a drydock for maintaining and repairing large crude vessels, a major drawback for carriers sailing to the country, NLNG spokesman Tony Okonedo told Reuters.

Only South Africa had such a facility on the continent, Okonedo said, meaning that ships travelled a long distance for repairs. Nigeria has two facilities that can only accommodate small vessels, he said.

Okonedo said Samsung Heavy Industries and Hyundai Heavy Industries have both agreed a $30 million commitment towards the construction of the facility, which would be located in Badagry, near Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos.

“It could potentially be used to transport the 2.5 million barrel a day crude business in Nigeria,” Okonedo said on the sidelines of a media briefing.

Okonedo said the NLNG organised a roadshow earlier this year to market the dry dock project to investors, which included multinational oil companies in Nigeria, with large exploration and upstream activities.

He said NLNG, which is owned by Nigeria’s state-oil company NNPC, Royal Dutch Shell, French oil company Total and Italy’s Eni was in discussions with a strategic investor for the project.

It appointed France’s BNP Paribas and Guaranty Trust Bank to help raise around $1.6 billion two years ago to build six new LNG carrier ships, expanding its fleet to 30.

The construction of the dry dock, with a size that can accommodate 185 football fields, will take up to 48 months to complete and would commence once all the funding was in place, he said.

The company, which was set up over two decades ago, has a capacity to produce 22 million metric tonnes of liquefied gas a year. It obtains its gas supply from upstream oil companies and liquefies it for export.

It has long-term supply contracts with buyers in Italy, Spain, Turkey, Portugal and France and also sells on the spot market.

Revenues for the first half shed 25 percent, in line with the fall in crude prices, NLNG said.

Zenith Bank To List $850 Million Shares On London Stock Exchange

Zenith Bank PLC expects the approval of British authorities for it to list up to $850 million of its shares later this month on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) as global depository receipts, a banker close to the deal said on Tuesday.

The London Stock Exchange said last week it expected an increase in new listings from African companies this year as businesses in the continent’s fast-growing economies seek to attract foreign investors.

Zenith said in October the secondary listing was aimed at improving liquidity in its stock rather than raising capital.

Zenith has all necessary approvals from Nigerian authorities to go ahead with the listing, the banker said, adding that the deal will enable foreigners who prefer to hold dollar assets to invest in the bank.

“Investors can only switch a maximum of $850 million worth of local shares into the GDR programme,” the banker said, adding that the GDR price will be based on the naira exchange rate and the local share price of Zenith Bank.

“Hopefully, it will be listed within two weeks,” the banker said.

Zenith Bank has a primary listing in Nigeria with a market capitalisation of N674.7 billion ($4.3 billion), based on Tuesday’s close of N21.49 per share.

One GDR will represent 50 ordinary shares, the bank said.

JP Morgan is acting as the depository bank, while Citi Bank will act as the custodian.

The LSE is already home to 96 companies whose main operations are in Sub-Saharan Africa, including 23 which have shares listed on its main market.

With this listing, Zenith Bank is expected to join three other Nigerian lenders with GDRs trading in London — Guaranty Trust Bank, Diamond Bank and First Bank.

Zenith Bank appoints JP Morgan to facilitate LSE listing

Zenith Bank has appointed JP Morgan to facilitate a secondary listing of its shares on the London Stock Exchange, the lender said on Wednesday.

Zenith Bank CEO/Managing Director, Godwin Emefiele

The listing is planned to be through a Global Depository Receipt (GDR), a tool used to facilitate investments and trading in the shares of companies from emerging markets.

Zenith said it will seek shareholders’ approval for the listing on Nov. 21 and that one GDR will represent 50 ordinary shares in the local bank.

Zenith already has a primary listing in Nigeria and has a market capitalisation of $3.6 billion.

The deal is subject to regulatory approval, the bank said, adding that it wanted to improve liquidity for its shares with the transaction and not to raise capital.

“Listing on the LSE creates new opportunities for increasing … liquidity in our securities … and diversification of our investor base,” Managing Director of the bank, Godwin Emefiele said in a statement.

Zenith Bank joins the league of four other Nigerian lenders — Guaranty Trust Bank, Diamond Bank, UBA and First Bank — with GDRs trading in London or New York.

Nigeria stocks soar to 59 week high, led by banks

Nigeria’s stock index hit a 59 week high on Wednesday, crossing the psychological 24,000 point level, on confidence from the recovery of the banking sector and heavy buying of Union Bank shares, dealers said.

The index gained 1.46 percent to 24,365 points at 1148 GMT on Wednesday, after rising consistently last week, hitting its highest since July 13, 2011, when it closed at 24,410 points.

Shares in Union Bank jumped almost 5 percent to 5.89 naira, on cross dealing of 2.2 billion shares by new investors in the lender, pulling other banks up with it.

The banking sector is up 36.2 percent this year on a recovery in earnings, compared with gains in the overall Nigerian index of 15.83 percent.

Union Bank shares gained 152 percent last year.

Fidelity bank rose 4.41 percent and Guaranty Trust Bank rose 3.07 percent.

Last week, Guaranty Trust Bank became the latest lender to post strong half-year results, reporting a 63 percent rise in pretax profit to 53 billion naira ($334.38 million) and saying that 73 percent of its gross earnings came from interest income.

Other top gainers on Wednesday included industrial stocks Dangote Sugar, Wapco, Flour Mills and Ashaka cement all up almost five percent

 

GT Bank set to launch online television platform

A leading commercial bank in Nigeria, Guaranty Trust Bank, has concluded plans on launching an online television platform; this comes at the heels of launching the first digital magazine in the country, called Ndani.

The television platform will feature mostly music, arts, movies, business, technology and interesting interviews of Africans that have reached the zenith of their careers. The TV will be called Ndani.TV

The bank said “Ndani was borne out of our desire to project Africa to the world. It is our gift to mother Africa and our opportunity to make her proud. Through this platform, we would tell the world about Africa; her vast culture, numerous natural resources, beautiful landscape, exceptional talents and rich history.”

Young business proprietors will be profiled on a programme called the Young CEO. They will be drawn from all facets of entrepreneurship and questioned on their walk through the hassles of building and sustaining their businesses.

This programme comes at a time when Africa is emerging as a significant market in the global economy, as young entrepreneurs are overcoming infrastructural and other business environmental constraints to create viable businesses that employ and empower countless individuals.

Beat FM presenter, Tolu Oniru (Toolz) will also be anchoring a programme called The Juice, which will feature interview series with players in the Nigerian entertainment industry.

With its success with its digital magazine, which was designed to ensure complete reader immersion with its exceptionally brilliant designs, quality content and elegant yet conservative layout, we can expect that its digital TV platform would not fail to impress.

The pre-launch is slated for Thursday April 5, 2012.