Monday, February 22, 2021

How ex-bank GMD bypassed protocols, transferred funds to foreign accounts, by EFCC witness


tiamin rice

A witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Babatunde Aro, has testified at the trial of former Group Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, Erastus Akingbola who allegedly bypassed banking protocols to transfer funds offshore.

It will be recalled that Access Bank acquired Intercontinental Bank when it became financially distressed, and that Mr Akingbola is being prosecuted by the EFCC for an alleged 179 billion naira fraud committed by him while he managed the Bank.

Head of Media and Publicity, Wilson Uwujaren, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, said Justice A.O. Faji had adjourned the case till March 1.

Mr Uwujaren, revealed that the defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ even though he is alleged to have perpetrated the fraud using suspicious financial transactions.

Testifying, the witness, Mr Aro, who works with Access Bank Plc, told the Court that he was part of an audit team that investigated a number of suspicious foreign transactions including the ones involving the 11.8 million dollars and 8.54 million pounds.

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The statement said: “The witness who then worked at Intercontinental Bank, told the Court that around November through December 2009 he was co-opted into a team set up in internal audit to review and investigate some foreign transactions.

“On the 11th March 2009, the sum of 8.54 million pounds was transferred from the bank’s Deutsche Bank Nostro account to a certain Messrs Fugler Solicitors on the instruction of Dr. Erastus Akingbola.

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

“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 8.54 million pounds,” the statement added.

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The EFCC spokesman quoted Mr Aro narrating how the team of internal auditors found out that the bank’s account with GBP Deutsche Bank Nostro was “debited to the tune of 9.8 million dollars and a corresponding 7.1 million pounds was put in the bank’s account”.

According to him, another 1.98 million dollars was taken from the same dollar Deutsche Bank and a corresponding 1.4 million pounds put back into the account.

He said: “The addition of the 9.8 million dollars and 1.98 million dollars will give you 11.8 million dollars while 7.1 million pounds and 1.44 million pounds will give 8.54 million pounds.

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“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.

“Contrary to normal procedures for such transactions, there was no corresponding deduction of charges from Dr. Erastus Akingbola’s account before affecting the payments,” Mr Aro added.

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The statement also revealed that exhibits displayed in the court confirmed 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 is Dr. Erastus Akingbola and it shows the beneficiary bank account as Fugler’s Client Account.

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

“The said instruction which was authorized by a manager at the bank, ought to normally have been declined.

“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, on the basis of insufficient funds,” the statement concluded.

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