Diamond Bank Plc. and two of its managers, Lasisi Abayomi and Hillary Ojukwu, were today arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos, capital of Lagos State on a six-count charge of money laundering. Charged alongside the bank and its two managers are Oni Oil and Gas Ltd and Ms. Lizzy Chinyere Ikenua.
Prosecutor Augustine Nwagu of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) accuses the bank and its two managers of failing to verify the true identity of its customers, Oni Oil and Gas Ltd, Onoche Ikenua, a deceased and suspected drug baron, and his wife, Lizzy Chinyere Ikenua. The prosecutor charges that the defendants, without due diligence, opened account number 0212010006203 in favor of the shady company and its owners as well as entered into other fiduciary relationships with them. The alleged offense took place in August 2006.
The prosecution stated that, between August and December 2006, Diamond Bank’s Mr. Ojukwu aided Oni Oil and Gas Ltd, Mr. Ikenua and Ms. Ikenua to convert various sums of money obtained directly or indirectly from illicit traffic in narcotic drugs. It said the defendant violated Section 14 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
The prosecution also alleged that, between August and October 2006, Diamond Bank “failed to report suspicious transactions on account no. 0212010006203 in the name of Oni Oil and Gas Ltd,” adding that the bank thereby breached Section 6 (9) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.
After the accused parties pleaded not guilty, Mr. Nwagu told the court that he was ready to proceed with the trial, revealing that two prosecution witnesses were in court. Justice Mojisola Olatoregun Ishola granted bail to each of the defendants in the sum of one million naira in addition to one surety in like sum.
The charge was also amended owing to the death of one of the defendants, Mr. Ikenua.