Alleged N125Bn Fraud: Atuche’s Other Trial Commences Oct. 28

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A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Tuesday adjourned the trial of the former managing director of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank Plc., Francis Atuche, till Oct. 28 and Oct.29.

Atuche is standing trial along Charles Ojo, the former managing director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc., in an alleged N125 billion-fraud scam filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two former bank chief executives are standing trial before Justice Saidu Saliu on an amended 45-count charge bordering on fraud, conspiracy, reckless granting and approval of loans and money laundry.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and are currently on bail.

NAN also reports that Atuche and some of his aides were recently discharged by an Ikeja High Court on another alleged fraud leveled against them by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency, at the resumed re-arraignment on Tuesday, said that Atuche committed the alleged fresh offences between Sept. 1, 2006 and 2009.

It listed the offences to include : acquiring Keystone Bank’s shares using depositors’ funds, applying for N3.5 billion being proceeds of unlawful loans granted to Tradjek Nigeria Ltd, a subsidiary of Futureview Financial Services Ltd.

EFCC had alleged that the loan was in payment for Atuche’s acquisition of shares of Bank PHB using various companies as fronts with an intention to conceal the ownership of the loans.

The commission also alleged that the accused collaborated with different companies to conceal the genuine origins of the N3.5billion used to acquire the bank’s shares.

The commission said that the offences contravened 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.

However, the offence of alleged reckless granting of loans contravened Section 7(2)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act.

The Counsel to the EFCC, Mr Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, asked the court for a date for continuation of trial.

The Counsel to the accused, Mr Osahon Idemudia, did not oppose the application.

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