Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has informed Justice Saliu Saidu of a Lagos Federal High Court, that its calling four witnesses to testify against former two bank chiefs, Francis Atuche and Philip Ojo who are standing trial before the court on alleged offence of N125 billion fraud.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is trying Francis Atuche, a former managing director of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank Plc, Mr. Francis Atuche, and the former managing director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, Charles Ojo, before the court outon an amended 45-count charge bordering on alleged N125 billion fraud, conspiracy, reckless granting and approval of loans and money laundry between September 1, 2006 and 2009.
The anti-graft agency through its lawyer, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, stated this at the resumed hearing of the Criminal charge against the former two bank executives on Wednesday.
When the matter was called, Pinheiro, SAN, informed the court that the the matter was slated for mention and that at the last adjournment, the court had fixed March 22 and 23, for the trial of the two accused persons.
He however urged the court to graciously adjourned the trial to April 14 and 15.
He said: “we are in court today to have the trial date which was at the last adjourned date was fixed for March 22 and 23.
“We seek the indulgence of this court to vacate the March 22 and 23, and gracious accommodate us on April 14 and 15.
“Prosecution could not go on two occasions, not because of lack of diligence on the part of prosecution but to court’s schedule.
“We intend to call four witnesses in the matter and we are willing and prepare to argue our case on that day. “
Consequently, upon the confirmation of Pinheiro’s submission by lawyers to two vicars persons, L. K. Oraghu and Victor Obaro, the judge said: “since the parties have agreed to adjourn the case, I have no choice than to adjourn. The matter is hereby adjourned till April 14 and 15, 2016, for the trial of accused persons.”
The two accused person were re-arraigned before the court by the EFCC on charges of acquiring Keystone Bank’s shares using depositors’ funds.
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. While offence of reckless granting of loans contravene Section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act and punishable under section 7(2)(b).
The anti-graft agency also accused Atuche of applying N3.5billion being proceeds of unlawful loans granted to Tradjek Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Futureview Financial Services Ltd, in payment for his acquisition of shares of Bank PHB using various companies as fronts with intention to conceal the ownership of the loans. Adding that he collaborated with different companies to conceal the genuine origins of the N3.5billion used to acquire the bank’s shares.