Law News
N125bn fraud: EFCC opens case against Atuche Oct 28

A Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed October 28, 2015, for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to open its case against a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, charged with N125bn fraud.

Atuche, who was on June 22, 2015, freed by a Lagos State High Court of alleged N25.7bn theft charges by the EFCC, is currently facing an amended 45-count before Justice Saliu Saidu of the Federal High Court.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, while freeing Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth, and a former Chief Financial Officer of Bank PHB, Ugo Anyanwu, faulted the EFCC for charging them before the state high court rather than the Federal High Court.

Standing trial alongside Atuche before the Federal High Court in Lagos is a former Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, Charles Ojo.

The EFCC accused both Atuche and Ojo of conspiracy, reckless granting and approval of loans and money laundering.

The duo were said to have allegedly committed general banking fraud and granted credit facilities without following due process at the time they were the bosses of the defunct banks. They were also accused of manipulating shares.

The EFCC accused them of conspiring to and indeed acquiring shares of Keystone Bank Plc using depositors’ funds.

The anti-graft agency specifically accused Atuche of acquiring N3.5bn shares of Bank PHB, using proceeds of unlawful loans granted to Tradjek Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Futureview Financial Services Ltd.

The offences, according to the EFCC, were allegedly committed between September 2006 and year 2009.

The EFCC’s prosecutor, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), said Atuche and Ojo’s acts constituted a contravention of Section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act.

The men were also charged for violating Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, as well as Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

But they had pleaded not guilty to the charges and are currently on bail in the sum of N50m each with two sureties in like sum.

At the Tuesday proceedings, Pinheiro sought for a date for the prosecution to open its trial.

The defence counsel, Osahon Idemudia, in response, however, raised no objection to the prayer for trial to commence.

Saidu subsequently adjourned till October 28 and 29 for the prosecution to open its case.

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