The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had earlier filed 12 counts against Mr Adoke, Aliyu Abubakar, Rasky Gbinigie, as well as Malabu Oil and Gas Limited before a Federal Capital Territory High Court in Abuja.
Others listed on the charge sheet are Nigeria Agip Exploration Limited, Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, and Shell Nigeria Exploration Production Company Limited.
The commission had also filed seven counts before a Federal High Court against Mr Adoke and Mr Abubakar.
The charges were filed against the former minister for the role he allegedly played in the controversial Oil Prospecting Licence (OPL) 245, otherwise known as Malabu oil scam.
A Prosecution witness, Fatima Abdullahi, younger sister of Mr Abdulrasheed Maina who is standing trial for money laundering and other offenses has distanced herself from accounts said to have been opened in her name.
Mrs Fatima, a civil servant who is a resident of Kaduna, told the court that she and Maina share the same parents.
She gave evidence behind a screen where her face was only seen by the judge, Justice Okon Abang, while her voice could be heard through the public address system of the court.
In her evidence in chief, the witness said she has never heard of a company called Common Input & Investment Nigeria Ltd.
She gave the narrative of how she found out about the company, sometime in August, 2019 when she tried to withdraw money from an ATM of a commercial bank and it declined and on enquiring from the bank manager, she was handed over to the EFCC for questioning.
She also told the court that it was the EFCC that told her of a company account registered in her name where huge sums of money have been withdrawn.
The witness also told the court that the EFCC showed her a CAC incorporation form of the company where the name ‘Fatima Samaila Abdullahi’ was stated together with her date of birth, but the phone number on the form was not her own.
Adding that the name as stated on the form is not her name, as her full name is ‘Fatima Abdullahi’.
The witness continued her evidence stating that even her signature was not the one on the form, as well as the one on another CAC form for Kangolo Digital and Drew Investment.
Mrs Fatima also denied knowledge of shares bought in her name in the companies, adding that the photograph attached to the documents was a younger version of her before she got married.
Meanwhile, the case has been adjourned to December 16 for cross examination and hearing of the bail variation application filed by Mr Maina.
The Federal High Court in Lagos has rescheduled the arraignment of Lebanese Hamza Koudeih and his accomplice Kayode Philip, alias Voice of the King, accused of money laundering.
Mr Philip and Koudeih are facing 24 counts filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Their arraignment, which was initially scheduled for Monday, November 25, before Justice Muslim Hassan, couldn’t go on as Koudeih’s lawyer, Abdulamid Mohammed, said he was yet to see the charge sheet against his client.
The lawyer, who is based in Abuja, said he was only told on Sunday that the matter would be coming up in Lagos on Monday and he had to rush down.
He said on getting to court on Monday morning, his client told him that the EFCC served the charge sheet on him on Friday and he gave it to his wife who took it home.
Mr Mohammed prayed Justice Hassan to adjourn the case to enable him to study the charge sheet and prepare for his client’s defence, citing Section 36 of the constitution, which provided that an accused must be given adequate time and facility to prepare for his defence.
The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo, opposed the prayer for an adjournment.
Following arguments between the lawyers, Justice Hassan, in a short ruling, said he would like to exercise caution and adjourn the case for Koudeih’s lawyer to study the 24 counts and the three volumes of proof of evidence filed by the EFCC against the defendant.
He adjourned till Thursday, November 28 for arraignment.
In the first count, the EFCC alleged that Philip and Koudeih conspired to convert aggregate sums of $7.06million and €80,000, “which sums you reasonably ought to have known form part of proceeds of fraud.”
The prosecution said the duo acted contrary to sections 18(a) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and were liable to be punished under Section 15(3) of the same Act.
The EFCC had on October 26 arrested Koudeih in his multi-million dollar Victoria Island luxury apartment in Lagos.
The EFCC claimed that Koudeih pays an annual rent of $5million for the apartment in the 33-storey Eko Atlantic Pearl Tower, VI.
The Federal High Court in Lagos has ordered that suspected internet fraudster, Ismaila Mustapha, also known as Mompha, be kept in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Services.
Justice Mohammed Liman gave the order on Monday after “Mompha” pleaded not guilty to the 14 charges of laundering N33 billion filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The court also fixed November 29 for the hearing of the bail application filed by the defendant.
The anti-graft agency alleged in the charge sheet signed by one of its counsels, Rotimi Oyedepo, that Mompha laundered the funds through a firm which was the second defendant – Ismalob Global Investment Ltd – between 2015 and 2018.
It claimed that the funds, domiciled in a commercial bank, were moved in tranches of N18,059,353,413 and N14,946,773,393.
The EFCC also claimed that both defendants, not being a financial institution or an authorised foreign exchange dealer, negotiated a foreign exchange transaction in the sum of N9.416 million, N20 million, N10,437,400, N10 million, N2.46 million, N10 million, N100 million, N61 million, N100 million, N40.7 million, and N42 million.
The funds were domiciled in the defendants’ commercial bank account.
In one of the counts, the anti-graft agency alleged that Mompha, “Between 2015 and 2018… procured Ismalob Global Investment Ltd to retain the aggregate sum of N18,059,353,413 in its account No. 5260000846 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc which sum you reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful act to wit: fraud.”
The first defendant was also alleged to have between 2015 and 2017, aided the company “to retain the aggregate sum of N 14,946,773,393.00 in its account No. 5260000846 domiciled in Fidelity Bank Plc from Pitacalize Ltd.”
Both actions, according to the EFCC, offend Sections 18(3) and 15(2)(d) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act.2011 (as amended) and are punishable under section 15 (3) of the same Act.
The United States has charged the CEO of Air Peace Airline, Allen Onyema, with bank fraud and money laundering.
According to a statement issued on Friday by the US Department of Justice, Onyema had moved more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.
“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak, said.
“We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”
He further stated that the airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, had also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.
This comes weeks after the airline’s boss had been celebrated for the humanitarian roles he played in the wake of xenophobic attacks on foreigners, including Nigerians in South Africa.
He had volunteered his airline to fly Nigerians stranded in South Africa back home at no cost.
The gesture was not only appreciated by Nigerians but recognised by the Federal Government.
Consequently, he was invited to the House of Representatives, given a standing ovation and recommended for a national award.
The US is, however, accusing him of setting up “various innocent-sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam”.
But Mr Onyema has denied these allegations.
“All allegations are false and are in no way in line with my character as a person and as a businessman whose only aim has been to build Nigeria,” he was quoted in an interview with This Day newspaper.
See the full statement below.
CEO of Nigerian airline indicted for bank fraud and money laundering
ATLANTA – Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, the Chairman, CEO, and founder of Air Peace, a Nigerian airline, has been charged with bank fraud and money laundering for moving more than $20 million from Nigeria through United States bank accounts in a scheme involving false documents based on the purchase of airplanes.
The international airline’s Chief of Administration and Finance, Ejiroghene Eghagha, has also been charged with bank fraud and committing aggravated identity theft in connection with the scheme.
“Onyema allegedly leveraged his status as a prominent business leader and airline executive while using falsified documents to commit fraud,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “We will diligently protect the integrity of our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business.”
Robert J. Murphy, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented on the indictment, “Allen Onyema’s status as a wealthy businessman turned out to be a fraud. He corrupted the U.S. banking system, but his trail of deceit and trickery came to a skidding halt. DEA would like to thank the many law enforcement partners and the subsequent prosecution by the U.S. Attorney’s Office who aided in making this investigation a success.”
“This case is a prime example of why IRS-CI seeks to partner and leverage its expertise in an effort to thwart those seeking to exploit our nation’s financial system,” said Thomas J. Holloman, IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Office.
“With the importance of our banking system to the movement of money around the world, those attempting to use intricate schemes to commit bank fraud through the use of falsified documents and other means should know that the odds are now heavily stacked against them as law enforcement is combining its talents to protect the sanctity and integrity of the nation’s financial system.”
“Onyema setup various innocent sounding multi-million dollar asset purchases which were nothing more than alleged fronts for his scam,” said acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in Georgia and Alabama. “I’m proud to be part of a team of law enforcement agencies that come together to identify and attack criminals that attempt to profit from the exploitation of our nation’s financial systems.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the indictment, and other information presented in court: Onyema, a Nigerian citizen and businessman, is the founder and Chairman of several organizations that purport to promote peace across Nigeria, including the Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, and All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited.
Beginning in 2010, Onyema began travelling frequently to Atlanta, where he opened several personal and business bank accounts. Between 2010 and 2018, over $44.9 million was allegedly transferred into his Atlanta-based accounts from foreign sources.
Onyema is also the CEO and Chairman of Nigerian airline Air Peace, which he founded in 2013. In years following the founding of Air Peace, he travelled to the United States and purchased multiple airplanes for the airline. However, over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft allegedly came from bank accounts for Foundation for Ethnic Harmony, International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development, All-Time Peace Media Communications Limited, and Every Child Limited.
Beginning in approximately May 2016, Onyema, together with Eghagha, allegedly used a series of export letters of credit to cause banks to transfer more than $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema. The letters of credit were purportedly to fund the purchase of five separate Boeing 737 passenger planes by Air Peace. The letters were supported by documents such as purchase agreements, bills of sale, and appraisals proving that Air Peace was purchasing the aircraft from Springfield Aviation Company LLC, a business registered in Georgia.
However, the supporting documents were fake — Springfield Aviation Company LLC, which is owned by Onyema and managed by a person with no connection to the aviation business, never owned the aircraft, and the company that allegedly drafted the appraisals did not exist. Eghagha allegedly participated in this scheme as well, directing the Springfield Aviation manager to sign and send false documents to banks and even using the manager’s identity to further the fraud. After Onyema received the money in the United States, he allegedly laundered over $16 million of the proceeds of the fraud by transferring it to other accounts.
Allen Ifechukwu Athan Onyema, 56, of Lagos, Nigeria, and Ejiroghene Eghagha, 37, of Lagos, Nigeria, were indicted on November 19, 2019, on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, three counts of bank fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit credit application fraud, and three counts of credit application fraud.
Additionally, Onyema was charged with 27 counts of money laundering, and Eghagha was charged with one count of aggravated identity theft.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
The Drug Enforcement Administration, Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Commerce, and Department of Treasury are investigating this case.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Garrett L. Bradford, Deputy Chief of the Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Section and Lead Strike Force Attorney, Irina K. Dutcher, and Christopher J. Huber, Deputy Chief of the Complex Frauds Section, are prosecuting the case, with assistance from the Department of Justice’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Office of International Affairs.
This prosecution was brought as a part of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) Co-located Strike Forces Initiative, which enables agents from different agencies to collaborate on intelligence-driven, multi-jurisdictional operations against a continuum of priority targets and their affiliate illicit financial networks. These prosecutor-led co-located Strike Forces capitalize on the synergy created through the long-term relationships that can be forged by agents, analysts, and prosecutors who remain together over time, and they epitomize the model that has proven most effective in combating organized crime.
The specific mission of the Atlanta Strike Force is to disrupt and dismantle the most significant drug trafficking and money laundering organizations designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets or Regional Priority Organization Targets and their affiliates impacting the Atlanta metropolitan area and the Northern District of Georgia.
In the first charge, the EFCC said that between 2015 & 2018, Mompha procured Ismalob Global Investment Ltd to retain the sum of N18m in its account, a sum suspected to be proceeds of crime.
Only yesterday, Mompha had filed a Fundamental Rights Enforcement Suit before the Lagos High Court to challenge his continued detention by the EFCC. He asked the court to award him N5m in damages against the EFCC for what he called his unlawful detention.
A prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that the sum of N800 million was paid from the Ministry of External Affairs into the account of a company, Jointrust Dimension Ltd.
The witness, an investigator with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), gave the testimony on Tuesday at the resumed trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Mr Femi Fani-Kayode, and others facing N4.6 billion money laundering charge.
Also charged are a former Minister of State for Finance, Nenandi Usman, and a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON), Yusuf Danjuma.
EFCC preferred a 17-count of money laundering against the defendants but all pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
The anti-graft agency has since opened its case and the third prosecution witness, Shuaibu, was examined in chief.
The prosecutor, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, continued the examination of the witness after the court had earlier rejected an objection to the admissibility of two documents tendered by the witness.
At the last adjourned date, the defence had objected to the admissibility of bank documents tendered through the witness on the ground that they were not legible and also not public documents.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa, however, rejected the objection on the ground that even if the witness was not the maker of the said document, they were gotten in the course of his investigation and therefore, admissible.
The court accordingly admitted and marked the documents as exhibits 15 and 16 respectively.
In continuation of his evidence, Oyedepo asked the witness to tell the court his findings during investigations.
The witness who first confirmed that exhibit E8 was the statement of account of Jointrust Dimension Ltd, told the court that investigations revealed that on January 16, 2015, the sum of N800million was paid into the account of the company.
He added that the money came from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) with the signatories to the account identified as two persons – Darbisu and Benjamin.
Shuaibu noted that the said signatories were former staff members of the MEA and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, respectively, now working with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
He told the court that on January 13, 2015, the sum of N400 million was paid from the MEA into the same account of Jointrust.
The witness explained that these monies were paid, whereas investigations revealed that there were no contracts between the ministry and the company to warrant such payment.
Under cross-examination, the defence counsel, Mr Ferdinard Orbih, asked the witness who was the author of the entries in Exhibit Eight and the witness replied that it was the MEA.
Orbih asked: “So you agree that neither of the defendants had any input in making the entries in Exhibit Eight” and the witness replied, “No, they don’t.”
When further quizzed to confirm if there exists in the said exhibit, words like the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the witness said no but explained that the words were abbreviated to read MEA and MFA.
The witness also told the court that he had no knowledge if any of the defendants were employees of any investigation agency of the government.
Mr Orbih also asked the witness if the commission obtained statements from the signatories to Exhibit 16 and the witness’ response was, “Yes, they were invited to our office and their statements taken.”
On whether the said statements were frontloaded or made available to the defence, the witness replied, “I don’t know.”
The defence counsel then said, “I put it to you that the purported statements were not frontloaded to the defendants and not before this court?”
“I don’t know, I am not a lawyer and I am not the one that drafted the charges,” the witness responded.
After listening to the testimony and comments from both counsels, the judge adjourned until Thursday for the continuation of the trial.
In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.
In counts one to seven, they were said to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of unlawful acts of stealing and corruption.
In counts eight to 14, they were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.
Similarly, in counts 15 to17, Mr Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke said to be at large were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution.
Besides, the former minister was alleged to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.
All offences, according to EFCC, contravene the provisions of Sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.
Professor Iwu was first arraigned on August 8 before Justice Chuka Obiozor, a vacation judge, but the matter was re-assigned to Justice Oweibo for trial.
According to the EFCC, he is alleged to have aided the concealment of the money between December 2014 and March 2015 in the account of Bio-resources Institute of Nigeria domiciled in a commercial bank.
Count 2 of the charge read: “That you, Professor Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu, between December 2014 and March 27, 2015, in Nigeria, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, procured Bio-resources Institute of Nigeria(BION) Limited to retain the aggregate sum of N1, 203,00,000.00( One Billion, Two Hundred and Three Million Naira) in Bio-resources Institute of Nigeria, (BION) Limited’s Account No. 1018603119 domiciled in the United Bank for Africa Plc, which sum you reasonably ought to have known forms part of proceeds of unlawful act, to wit: fraud and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Sections 18 (c), 15(2) (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act , 2011, as amended, and punishable under Section (5) (3) of the same Act.”
The former chairman of the electoral body, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.
In view of his plea, the prosecuting counsel, Bilkisu Buhari, asked the court for a trial date.
On his part, the defence counsel, A. Usman, informed the court that the defendant has been enjoying the bail granted him by Justice Obiozor upon his first arraignment.
He, therefore, urged the court to allow the defendant to continue with the bail terms granted by Justice Obiozor.
Usman also informed the court that he had filed a motion challenging its jurisdiction to entertain the case.
In his ruling, Justice Oweibo adjourned the matter until November 25, for the hearing of the motion.
Five Vatican employees, including the number two at its anti-money laundering authority, have been suspended following police raids linked to a financial wrongdoing probe, Italian media said Wednesday.
There was no immediate comment from Vatican authorities to the report which came the day after prosecutors seized documents and electronic devices from he offices of two key Vatican departments, the Secretariat of State and the FIA financial authority.
The L’Espresso magazine published a police circular dated Wednesday showing photographs and the positions of the five “suspended as a precaution”.
The circular said Vatican guards should no longer grant access to the five, except for healthcare purposes.
One of those suspended, secretariat head of information and documentation Mgr Mauro Carlino, will continue to be granted residence in the same hotel complex which is home to Pope Francis.
Also named was FIA director Tommaso Di Ruzza. The FIA is an independent anti-money laundering authority designed to lend transparency to operations by the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR) — which acts as the Vatican Bank.
The three others suspended hold administrative posts in the secretariat.
The Vatican had said Tuesday’s raids, authorised by prosecutor Gian Piero Milano and his deputy Alessandro Diddi, were “linked to the complaints presented at the beginning of last summer by the Institute for Works of Religion and the Office of the General Auditor, regarding financial transactions carried out over time.”
The Secretariat of State, the Catholic Church’s governing body, works closely with Pope Francis.
L’Espresso reported that the investigation was looking into “real estate operations abroad,” notably in London with the alleged participation of British companies.
The magazine said investigators were analysing transactions on bank accounts which receive sums of money donated to the Catholic Church.
The Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), has warned against the stereotyping of all Nigerians, following the release of a list by the US authorities which indicted 80 persons, mostly Nigerians for various crimes including massive email fraud and money laundering.
According to a statement by the Chief Executive of the Commission, Mrs Dabiri-Erewa, the actions of a few Nigerians involved in criminal activities is not a representation of the majority.
It also said that an accusation does not necessarily mean guilt and that it expects that all the suspects will be given fair and speedy trial.
The 13-year-old trial of a former governor of Abia State and Senator representing Abia North Senatorial District, Orji Uzor Kalu, will resume at the Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos on Monday, July 22.
This is after President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, gave a fresh fiat to the trial judge, Justice Mohammed Idris, to enable him to return to the court to conclude the case.
Justice Idris was elevated from the Federal High Court to the Court of Appeal in June 2018. But he continued to hear the case after the President of the Court of Appeal initially granted a fiat for him to do so.
The fiat was granted at the instance of Kalu’s Lawyer, Professor Awa Kalu (SAN) who activated Section 396(7) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, in order to prevent the case from being transferred to another judge to start afresh.
A copy of a Fresh Fiat has however stated that the trial will now commence on the 22nd of July and will continue from day to day until the trial is concluded.
Kalu is standing trial alongside his former Commissioner for Finance, Ude Udeogo, and a company, Slok Nigeria Limited, on an amended 39 count of money laundering to the tune of N7.6billion.
On July 31, 2018, Justice Idris dismissed the ‘no-case submissions’ made by Kalu and the other defendants and ordered them to open their defence.
But rather than open their defence, Kalu sought a six-week adjournment to embark on a trip to Germany to have surgery for an undisclosed ailment.
The defendants later challenged the jurisdiction of the judge to hear the case, arguing that he was no longer a judge of the high court.
They also filed an application seeking a stay of proceedings pending the outcome of their appeals. Justice Idris dismissed both.
When Kanu did not subsequently make himself available for his trial, Justice Idris revoked his bail.
The judge also ordered him to submit himself to the EFCC within 24 hours of his return to the country.
On January 23, 2019, when the case last came up in court, the prosecutor, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), complained about Kalu’s repeated absence from court, alleging that the former governor, then a senator-elect, was taking the court for a ride. The counsel also noted that despite the court’s order, Kanu did not turn himself into the EFCC.
“He (Kalu) kept on campaigning for his senatorial ambition, slapping the court in the face; his attitude is unbecoming,” Jacobs said while urging Justice Idris to continue the hearing in Kalu’s absence.
But in response, Justice Idris said he could not proceed with the case as a second fiat given to him by the Appeal Court President had expired in November 2018.