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Trial Resumes on Atuche, Ojo Over N125bn Fraud

The trial of Mr Francis Atuche, Managing Director of defunct Bank PHB Plc, (now Keystone Bank Plc), and former Managing Director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, Mr. Charles Ojo, resumed before a Federal High Court, Lagos today with a prosecution witness, Mr Adeniji Ayokunnunmi, telling the court that Bank PHB was already in distress before his team carried out Special Examinations it.

Ayokunnunmi, a Retired Deputy Director, Banking Supervision Division of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, made this known today while being cross-examined by Atuche’s lawyer Mr Tayo Oyetibo, (SAN).

When asked by counsel to Atuche on how he got to know that the bank was already on the edge, the witness said, “there were clear signs that Bank PHB were on its knees before we went on the special examination.’

He added that the accounting records of the bank were in shambles, credits were not performing, including that of directors, the IT system was in bad shape,while shareholders’ funds has totally been eroded.

Ayokunnumi said he got to know all this information through the records provided by the bank. ” The bank also gave us records when we got there and it is from the records that we saw the distress signs, he said.

Atuche and Ojo had earlier been re-arraigned before Justice Ayotunde Faji of the Federal High Court, Lagos on a 45 counts charge of alleged N125 billion fraud.

Charges preferred against the two former bank managing directors also include conspiracy, reckless granting and approval of loans and money laundering between September 1, 2006 and 2009.

But they had pleaded not guilty to all the 45 charges and are currently on bail.

The alleged offences, according to the anti-graft agency, contravenes 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.

The offence of reckless granting of loans contravenes Section 7(1)(b) of the Advance Fee Fraud and other Fraud Related Offences Act and punishable under section 7(2)(b) of the Advanced Fee Fraud Act, 2004, and sections 15(1) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, 2004,

Meanwhile, further hearing in the matter has been adjourned till today.



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