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.‎

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.”

2.2bn Debt: Court Directs Sterling Bank, Dana Group To Settle Out Of Court

court-hammer-gavel1Thousands of workers at the Dana Group of companies can heave a sigh of relief as the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos urged the company and Sterling Bank Limited to explore the options of settling it’s dispute out of court.

Sterling Bank through its counsel, Dele Ogunba, SAN had dragged Dana group to court over two loan facilities it granted the company.

The bank wanted the court to wind up the company and to appoint a receiver/manager over the company’s assets. But Dana Group through its lawyers from the firm of Joseph Nwobike SAN, claimed it had paid 200m out of the debt and wanted the suit nullified.

Presiding judge, Justice Mohammed Yinusa, held that the company did not fully establish the fact that it had paid the money.

The court also held that Dana Group still had an outstanding debt of about N2.2bn and that an intermediate payment of N200m was not enough to nullify the suit and discharge the order of receivership.

After the ruling, the court directed the parties to explore the options of an amicable settlement in the interest of the workers and all parties to the suit.

The parties will report terms of settlement back to the court on the 27th of October.

Ogboru ‘Is A Chronic Debtor’, AMCON Tells Court

The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) on Thursday told a Federal High Court, Lagos that a former Delta Governorship Candidate, Great Ogboru “is a chronic debtor”.

Former Delta Governorship Candidate, Great Ogboru

Counsel to AMCON, Kunle Ogunba disclosed this in reaction to two motions filed by Mr Ogboru, one, seeking to set aside a court order, which allowed the appointment of a receiver manager to his properties

On the second leg of the motion, Mr Ogboru is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit, which he described as an abuse of court process.

Justice Okon Abang had made the order on 13 January, appointing a receiver manager to the defendant’s property, following a suit filed by AMCON over an unpaid loan transaction.

AMCON in their affidavit had affirmed the indebtedness of Mr Ogboru to Equatorial Trust Bank (now Sterling bank), and his unwillingness to liquidate the debt.

Arguing the motion, Mr Ogboru’s counsel, McCarthy Mbadugha said the suit was an abuse of court process because there was a pending suit before a Federal High Court, Abuja on the same subject matter.

Mr Mbadugha added that the Abuja court had earlier issued an order restraining AMCON perpetually from taking over Mr Ogboru’s properties.

He also faulted the appearance of Mr Ogunba in the matter, saying the lawyer already has financial interest in the matter, having been appointed as receiver/manager.

Mr Mbadugha, therefore, urged the court to dismiss the suit.

Responding, AMCON’s counsel, told the court that the action of people like Mr Ogboru was responsible for the collapse of some banks in the country.

He said the defendant had agreed that the principal loan sum of N33 million was outstanding.

The AMCON lawyer argued that Mr Ogboru had not even liquidated his debt, but wants the court to determine the interest.

He told the court that Mr Ogboru’s motion was misconceived, and ought not to see the light of day.

Justice Abang has fixed March 22 for Mr Ogboru’s reply on point of law to AMCON’s argument.