Friday, October 22, 2021

    N179billion Fraud: Trial of Erastus Akingbola continues

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    Naija247news Editorial Team
    Naija247news is an investigative news platform that tracks news on Nigerian Economy, Business, Politics, Financial and Africa and Global Economy.

    The ongoing trial of Erastus Akingbola, a former Group Managing Director
    of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, continued on February 19, 2021
    before Justice A.O. Faji of a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos with a
    witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Babatunde
    Aro, narrating how the defendant allegedly bypassed banking protocols to
    transfer $11.8million and £8.54million offshore without recourse to the
    bank’s standard procedures.

    Akingbola is being prosecuted by the EFCC for an alleged N179billion
    fraud committed by him while he held sway at the Bank. He is alleged to
    have perpetrated the fraud using suspicious financial transactions. He
    pleaded “not guilty” to the allegations.

    Testifying as the fourth prosecution witness, Aro, who works with Access
    Bank Plc, as Head, Global Compliance Advisory, told the Court that he
    was part of an audit team that investigated a number of suspicious
    foreign transactions including the ones involving the $11.8million and
    £8.54million. It will be recalled that Access Bank acquired
    Intercontinental Bank when it became financially distressed.

    Led in evidence by Rotimi Jacobs, SAN, the witness who then worked at
    Intercontinental Bank, told the Court that around November/December 2009
    he was coopted into a team set up in internal audit “to review and
    investigate some foreign transactions”.

    According to him, in the course of investigating the suspicious
    transactions, it was uncovered that: “On the 11th March 2009, the sum of
    £8.54million was transferred from the bank’s Deutshe Bank Nostro account
    to a certain Messrs Fugler Solicitors on the instruction of Dr. Erastus

    “The instruction was not signed and at that time his Domiciliary account
    with the bank had $19 and £10,000.

    “The Visa Card account was also not funded at that time, so also the
    Naira account of Dr. Erastus Akingbola with the bank did not have the
    equivalent of £8.54million.”

    He further told the Court that the team of internal auditors found out
    that the bank’s Nostro account with Deutsche Bank was debited to the
    tune of $9.8million and a corresponding £7.1million was put in the
    bank’s GBP Deutsche Bank Nostro account.

    He said: “Another $1.98million was observed taken from same dollar
    Deutsche Bank Nostro account of the bank and a corresponding £1.4million
    put in the bank’s GBP Deutsche Bank Nostro account.

    “The addition of the $9.8million and $1.98million will give you
    $11.8million while £7.1million and £1.44million will give £8.54million.

    “However, there were no corresponding amounts in the account of Dr.
    Akingbola at these times, and the instruction with which the transfer
    was effected was unsigned.”

    He further added that “contrary to normal procedures for such
    transactions, there were no corresponding deduction of charges from Dr.
    Erastus Akingbola’s account before effecting the payments”.

    Identifying the bank statements of the said transactions in Exhibit L,
    he noted that “the authenticated message transmitted to the
    correspondent bank showed the sender as Intercontinental Bank, and the
    receiver as Deutsche Bank.

    “The ordering customer on the document being Dr. Erastus Akingbola and
    it shows the beneficiary bank account as Fugler’s Client Account.

    “Details of charges was stated as OUR meaning the person sending will
    pay to both himself and party sending the money to.”

    While noting that Akingbola was the Group Managing Director of the bank
    at the time he gave the instruction, he stressed that the said
    instruction which was authorised by a manager at the bank, ought to
    normally have been declined.

    He said: “Normally an instruction without a signature will be returned
    to the customer, or the customer will be asked to come and sign else the
    bank will return it and not process it.

    “Even if it is after verifying his position with the bank, the
    transaction will be declined on the basis of insufficient funds.”

    The case has been adjourned till March 1, 2021.

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