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Alleged Fraud: Approved Loans Under Akingbola As Intercontinental Bank MD Followed Due Process – EFCC WITNESS

By Francis Iwuchukwu, Lagos 

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria, was on Monday (today) informed that all the loans approved by the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc., Dr. Erastus Akingbola, followed due process.

This revelation came through a witness brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Modupe Idowu Ajayi.

Mrs. Ajayi, who held sway as the Assistant General Manager, AGM, Credit Analysis Department of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, also told the court that Akingbola did not authorise  the disbursement of any loan obtained from the bank.

While being cross-examined by Professor Taiwo Osipintan (SAN), one of the lawyer representing Akingbola, the witness, when requested to go through page 84 to 94 of one of  the exhibit  tendered  by the prosecution through her, and point out if there was any loan obtained without due process, the witness said: "The process were in accordance with the laid down rules and the approval was based on recommendation."

When equally queried as to whether Akingbola signed the disbursement of the loans, the witness replied; "There was no documents indicating that the defendant authorised the disbursement of the loans."

Mrs. Ajayi said, when further questioned concerning those who recommended the payment of the loans, that, "I was not party to the recommendation. 

“Two non executive directors, and somebody from the legal department and Credit department made the recommendation.”

When also asked if any of those that made the recommendation were charged with Akingbola, the witness argued that, “I can't see them in court.”

Justice Olatoregun was further notified that from the documents,  all the loans were adequately secured  either by shares  or cash as contained in the offer letters and that there are two conditions for draw down of the facilities, which according to her are condition precedent and conditions for drawing down on the facilities.

It would be recalled, that while being led in evidence by lawyer to the EFCC, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), the witness had narrated before the judge how the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, granted loans to some companies for trading at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

Among the companies named by the EFCC witness are Sincker Nigeria Limited, Stansus Investment and Nwudike Enterprises.

Mrs. Ajayi  insisted that all the loans followed due process and met the bank’s rules as at the time. 

She equally intimated Justice Olatoregun that Intercontinental Bank made money from such facilities.

The witness also argued before the Judge that all through her tenure as head of Credit Analysis, she did not recommend any facility to Akingbola or companies associated with him.

Testifying further, Mrs. Ajayi, while analysing some exhibits earlier tendered by another witness, said she did not sign some of the documents for the loans, while she signed some.

The anti-graft agency had in a 22- Count charge alleged that  Akingbola, between November 2007 and July 2008, “caused to be created a misleading appearance of active trading in the shares of Intercontinental Bank Plc on the Nigerian Stock Exchange by being connected with the utilisation of an aggregate sum of N179.385billlion of the bank’s fund for the purchase of the bank’s shares.”

The Commission specifically stated that Akingbola converted N10 billion belonging to the bank by obtaining three manager’s cheques in the names of Tropics Properties Ltd, Tropics securities Ltd and Bankinson Nigeria Ltd, which he “owned and controlled.”

The anti-graft agency added that, “The manager cheques were subsequently used to repay loan granted by Access Bank Plc to your companies and which sum you knew represented the proceeds of crime, to wit: stealing."

The alleged offence, according to the EFCC, violates Section 14 (1) of the Money Laundering Act of 2004.

In the 22-count charge, the prosecution alleged that Akingbola made an equity investment of N100million in Flexmore Technologies without a prior approval in writing of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The EFCC also alleged that Akingbola failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the requirement to maintain, at all times, the minimum capital adequacy ratio specified by the CBN in compliance with Section 13(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B3 Laws of the Federation 2004.

Akingbola was accused of granting “unsecured credit facilities” worth billions of naira to different companies, and of buying a London property at with 1.3 million pounds was taken from the bank’s Nostro account, among others.

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