Monday, March 27, 2023

Cecilia Ibru: EFCC reopens old wound, uncovers 2 accounts stashed with proceeds of 61 Dubai assets sales

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Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan
Ibrahim Ramalan is a graduate of Mass Communications from the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria. With nearly a decade-long, active journalism practice, Mr Ramalan has been able to rise from a cub reporter to the exalted position of an editor; first as Arts Editor with the Blueprint Newspapers before resigning in 2019; second and presently as an Associate Editor of the Daily Nigerian online newspaper. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @McRamalan on Twitter.
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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has identified two accounts believed to be stashed with the proceeds realised from the sale of 61 assets traced to a former Chief Executive Officer of the defunct Oceanic Bank, Cecilia Ibru.

The accounts in Natwest Bank are 64535088(Sort Code 515001) and 77898583(Sort Code 50310) in a branch of the bank in Kensington Royal Garden.

About $112,000 was purportedly traced to account 64535088; about $209,000 was reportedly found in the second account.

The EFCC traced 61 assets to, including 41 shops, 16 mansions and four Park Towers, in Dubai.

Although all the properties were confiscated, their sale has been trailed with a fresh controversy because about $4,522,413.20 has remained unaccounted for in the last seven years.

Out of over $7million purportedly realised from the disposal of the properties, the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, received $ 3,278,238.69.

To this end, the anti-graft commission has written to the National Crime Agency, NCA, in the United Kingdom to probe some suspects.

A UK-based counsel, Williams Akintunde-Oluwaseun, who handled the sale, insisted that only $4,406, 826.63 was realised.

But he has not accounted for the $1, 128,587.94 differences in what he remitted to AMCON.

The EFCC has written to NCA to “assist in the full-scale investigation of the activities of some people and the laundering of the proceeds of Dubai portfolios”.

A source said: “The EFCC has located various sums of money wired from the proceeds into some accounts in Nigeria, the UK and Dubai, among others.

“We need the NCA to help track down the beneficiaries and probe their accounts. Two accounts have been located in Natwest Bank in the UK.

“They are 64535088 (Sort Code 515001) and 77898583 (Sort Code 50310) in a branch of the bank in Kensington Royal Garden.

“Some of the proceeds were lodged in third-party accounts. Our detectives uncovered the re-looting of the proceeds by some of those under investigation. Most of these inflows went to individuals and companies

“The on-going collaboration  with NCA will no doubt help us in bringing some suspects to justice and facilitate the recovery of the missing $4.5million proceeds.”

The source also claimed that six of the properties were sold in dollars but payment was effected in Naira to AMCON.

“The six properties were sold for N315million but only N100million was paid to AMCON. Detectives are looking at what informed payment to AMCON in Naira when the assets were bought in dollars.

“Also, the whereabouts of N215million balance is unknown to date. This is why we are investigating all the desk officers in AMCON, companies and the counsel connected with the sale of these 61 assets.

“We may be forced to declare some of the suspects wanted if they do not respond to our invitation for questioning.”

The source alleged that four properties, which were yet to be retrieved, were still suspected to be in Dubai.

The assets were developed by a company called DAMAC in Dubai. “We are seeking the assistance of the UAE Government to retrieve them back.

“The company is claiming that it can only release the assets if Mrs Ibru and other owners can sign the power of attorney to release them to the Federal Government,” the source added.

Justice Daniel Abutu of the Federal High Court in Lagos on October 9, 2010 convicted and sentenced Mrs Ibru to 18 months imprisonment.

He ordered that Mrs Ibru should forfeit N191billion worth of assets to the Federal Government through AMCON.

The assets to forfeit include properties in Nigeria, United States and Dubai.

She was also ordered to forfeit shares in over 100 firms both listed and unlisted at the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

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