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Alleged N125b Fraud: EFCC Tender Documents Against Former Bank Chiefs, Atuche, Ojo

 



  • As Trial Continues November 11, 12, 19, 20, December 4, 7, 11,


BY FRANCIS IWUCHUKWU


The minutes of 38 Board of Director General Meeting held in July 2008, in  Victoria Island, Lagos State, Nigeria, was on Friday (yesterday) tendered before Justice Ayokunle Faji of a Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State, Nigeria.


The minutes were tendered by Keystone Bank Plc, in compliance with the subpoena issued by the court in the trial of alleged N125 billion fraud trial of Francis Atuche and Charles Ojo, who were former Managing Directors of the defunct Bank PHB and Spring Bank Plc.


It would be recalled that Justice Ayokunle Faji had issued a subpoena, directing Keystone Bank Plc, to produce the document at the last hearing of the charge against both Atuche and Ojo, following a request made by Atuche’s counsel, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN).


While the matter lasted on Friday, an official of Keystone Bank Plc, Nkanu Nkanu, tendered before the court the Certified True Copies (CTC) of the bank’s Minutes of 38 Board of Directors' General Meeting.


The moment the minutes of the meeting were submitted to the judge, Francis Atuche's lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), apologised to the court for making the mistake in asking for the CTC of the meeting.


The SAN consequently asked the court to issue another subpoena compelling Keystone Bank Plc, to produce the original copy of the minutes of the meeting.


Tayo Oyetibo (SAN) noted that the normal court procedure was that the Bank ought to have come to court with the original copy(s) of the documents and after the court, the Bank goes back with the original copy(s).


The senior lawyer applied that the court issues another subpoena to Keystone Bank Plc, to produce the original copy(s) of the Minutes of the 38 Board of Directors General Meeting.


However, the prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro (SAN) opposed Oyetibo’s demand, on the ground the the Bank had complied with the court’s subpoena, while adding that the request made by the defence, will make the case to suffer another adjournment after the matter had been adjourned on three occasions


However, the court conceded to the defendants’ request and adjourned the case untill November 11, 12, 19, 20 and December 4, 7 and 11, 2020.


The duo are facing trial before Justice Ayokunle Faji on a 45 counts charge of conspiracy and illegal and unlawful granting of billions of naira of loans to some companies, Futureview Service Limited, Petosan Oil and Gas Limited, Tradjek Nigeria Limited and Extra Oil Limited.


They were also  accused of reckless granting of several billions of loans between 2006 and 2009 to Platinum Capital Limited, a company in which they both have interest.


The loans were alleged to have been granted without adequate security, an act the EFCC said violated Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.


They were further alleged to have conspired to grant several billion naira loans to one Futureview Service Limited “without adequate security and contrary to accepted banking practice”.


They were said to have acted contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Bank (Recovery of Debt) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and liable to be punished under Section 16(1)(a) of the same Act.


Also allegedly granted loans without adequate security by the defendants were Petosan Oil and Gas Limited, Tradjek Nigeria Limited and Extra Oil Limited.


In one of the counts, both Atuche and Ojo were accused of failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the correctness of the June 2009 Bank PHB monthly bank returns to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).


They were also alleged to have on December 24, 2008 injected the sum of N650m into “Insurance PHB Limited,” contrary to Section 21(2)(a) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act Cap B3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.


The two former banks' managing directors have since  pleaded not guilty to the charges.


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