Litigation: EFCC re-arraigns Erastus Akingbola for alleged N179bn fraud

Litigation: EFCC re-arraigns Erastus Akingbola for alleged N179bn fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday re -arraigned a former Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc , Dr Erastus Akingbola, on N179 bn fraud charges .

Akingbola’s re -arraignment before the Federal High Court in Lagos followed a further amendment to the charges , which the EFCC filed against him since 2009 .

Justice Charles Archibong , who first handled the case , had struck out the charges , citing lack of diligent prosecution .

Displeased, the EFCC went on appeal , which overruled Justice Archibong and ordered Akingbola to return to the high court to face his trial .

Not pleased , Akingbola went before the Supreme Court , which May last year , affirmed the decision of the Appeal Court .

As a result, the 10 – year -old case reopened before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun on Monday .

At the Wednesday ’s proceedings, the prosecuting counsel , Mr . Rotimi Jacobs ( SAN ) , brought before the court a further amended charge sheet and urged the court to allow Akingbola to be re – arraigned .

The judge granted the prayer and Akingbola was re – arraigned.

As opposed to the initial charge sheet , which had 26 counts, the further amended charge sheet contained only 22 counts.

In the charges , the EFCC alleged that while he was the MD and Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Bank Plc , Akingbola used N 179 ,385 ,000 , 000 belonging to the bank for “fictitious transactions .”

The anti- graft agency claimed that Akingbola used the N 179 bn “to buy Intercontinental Bank Plc ’s shares , thereby inflating the market price of Intercontinental Bank Plc ’s shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange .”

This , the EFCC said , was a contravention of Section 105 ( 2) ( a ) of the Investment and Securities Act 2007 , adding that the offence is punishable under Section 115 ( a ) of the same Act .

The EFCC also accused Akingbola of reckless granting of credit facilities to five firms, which did not furnish the bank with adequate security for the loans .

According to the EFCC, the firms , which were each granted a loan of N 8bn without adequate security under Akingbola’s watch, were Soo – Kok Holding Limited ; Tofa General Enterprises ; Cinca Nigeria Limited ; Harmony Trust and Investment Limited ; and Stanzus Investment Limited .

The EFCC said the ex- bank chief violated Section 15 ( 1 ) ( a) ( i) of the Failed Banks ( Recovery of Debts ) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act , Cap F 2, Laws of the Federation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16 ( 1 ) ( a) of the same Act .

In another instance , the EFCC alleged that Akingbola took £1 .3 m from Intercontinental Bank Plc ’s GBP NOSTRO account at Deutsche Bank , London , and remitted same into the bank account of Fuglers Solicitors with the Royal Bank of Scotland Plc , London .

The EFCC claimed that the £ 1. 3m was paid to Fuglers Solicitors for the purpose of buying a property in the name of Life Boat Settlement Trust, which Akingbola set up.

The EFCC said Akingbola knew the £ 1. 3m to be proceeds of crime, “to wit : stealing and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 14 ( 1 ) of the Money Laundering ( Prohibition) Act , 2004.”

Akingbola, however , pleaded not guilty to the 22 counts .

Justice Olatoregun adjourned the matter till Thursday for Akingbola’s lawyer , Chief Wole Olanipekun ( SAN ) , to continue with the cross-examination of the second prosecution witness , Abdulraheem Jimoh.

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