179BILLION NAIRA FRAUD: AGAIN, ERASTUS AKINGBOLA’S TRIAL SUFFERS SETBACK

Oluwatosin Omojuyigbe

The N179bn fraud trial of a former managing director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr Erastus Akingbola, was stalled on Tuesday due to the absence of the trial judge.

The judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, was said to be away on another official assignment.  As a result, the case was adjourned till June 13.

Akingbola is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on further amended 22 counts, wherein he was accused of using N179bn belonging to the defunct Intercontinental Bank for “fictitious transactions.”

The anti-graft agency claimed Akingbola used the N179bn “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 argued, contravened Section 105(2)(a) of the Investment and Securities Act 2007 and that the offence was punishable under Section 115(a) of the same Act.

The EFCC also accused Akingbola of granting credit facilities to five firms without adequate security for the loans.

According to the EFCC, the firms, which were granted N8bn loan each 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 alleged the ex-bank chief violated Section 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, 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.

The EFCC also alleged that Akingbola took £1.3m 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 added that 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.

Copyright PUNCH.

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