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Rogue Banker Atuche’s Trial: EFCC Tenders 17 Documents, More To Be Tendered

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Friday, tendered more documents in the ongoing trial of Messrs. Francis Atuche and Charles Ojo, before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

Mr. Atuche,

Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Bank PHB Plc (now Keystone Bank Plc), and Mr. Ojo, Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, are standing trial for alleged N125 billion fraud.

At the resumed trial, the EFCC, through its prosecutor, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), tendered before the court a slew of documents, which were admitted as exhibits.

Among documents tendered as additional proof of evidence were Certified True Copies (CTCs) of shares application forms for Commercial Trading and Services Limited, dated 15 December, 2007 and valued N1.5 billion; APCO Associates Limited, dated 19 December, 2007; Felimon Enterprises, dated 16 December 2007; and Multrack Investment Limited, dated 17 December, 2007.

The prosecutor also tendered the CTC of current account opening of Package Oil and Gas Limited, shares application forms of Stamford Global Concept, dated 19 December, 2007; Gazali Yakubu Investment Limited, dated 17 December, 2007; Arabian Property Management, dated 19 December, 2007; Termonth Asset Management Limited, dated 17 December, 2007; and shares form of Anyanko Francis Okechukwu, dated December 12, 2007.

Other documents tendered were the CTC of Bank PHB memo, dated 3 December, 2007; Bank PHB's letter of appointment of Ehi Ehiyo, dated 3 December, 2007; Bank PHB's letter to the EFCC, dated 28 October, 2009; CTC of Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) documents on resolutions of Gazali Yakubu Investment Limited, Patrick Edeh Investment Limited and documents on particulars of directors of Gazali Yakubu Investment Limited, dated 28 May, 2005.

Similarly tendered to the court were CTCs of CAC’s resolution on the removal and appointment of directors of Gazali Yakubu Investment Limited, Commercial Trading and Services Limited and Pelimoh Enterprises Limited dated 29 November 2005.

In addition, the EFCC tendered the CTCs of CAC’s particulars of directors of AFCO and Associates, CAC Forms 2 and 7 of Okwu Assets Management.

These companies listed are some of those alleged to have been used by Mr. Atuche to perpetrate N125 billion fraud while he was the Managing Director of BankPHB.

Lawyers to the two former bank chiefs, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), and Mr. O. Idemudua, did not oppose the tendering and admissibility of the documents. However, they objected to the prosecution’s failure to disclose the contents of the documents. This resulted in an altercation, which compelled the presiding judge, Justice Saliu Saidu, to rise for some minutes.
Justice Saidu admitted all the documents and marked them as exhibits in the case.

After the documents were admitted and marked as exhibits, Mr. Pinheiro requested for a short adjournment to enable him prepare schedule of more documents to be tendered in the case.

His request was granted and the matter was adjourned till 24 November 24 for continuation of trial.

Messrs. Atuche and Ojo were arraigned before the court by the EFCC, in an amended 45-count charge bordering on alleged N125 billion fraud, conspiracy, reckless granting and approval of loans and money laundering between 1 September, 2006 and 2009.

The EFCC also accused Mr. Atuche of applying N3.5billion, alleged proceeds of unlawful loans granted to Tradjek Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Futureview Financial Services Ltd, as payment for his acquisition of shares of Bank PHB for which he used various companies as fronts, with an intention to conceal the ownership of the loans.

The alleged offences, according to the anti-graft agency, contravene Section 14(1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act and Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap 38, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The alleged offence of reckless granting of loans contravenes Section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act and punishable under section 7(2)(b).

Francis AtucheEFCC Nigeria