22 bankers remanded in prison custody over mega fraud

Posted by News Express | 2 June 2015 | 3,945 times

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True to its promise, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) today arraigned 22 bankers implicated in a mega fraud before the Federal High Court, Ibadan, Oyo State capital. The banks whose staff were arraigned are Zenith Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Wema Bank, Access Bank, First Bank, Skye Bank, Ecobank and Sterling Bank.

The suspects, comprising 16 staff of deposit money banks and six staff of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), were slammed with a five-count charge of fraud before Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel. All pleaded not guilty.

Justice Ayo-Emmanuel adjourned the matter to June 9, for hearing of the bail applications and July 6 and 7, for commencement of trial. He ordered that all the defendants be remanded in Agodi Prison custody, located in Ibadan.

News Express had on Sunday broken the news of the imminent arraignment of the suspects from today to Thursday.

Yesterday, the CBN issued a statement explaining that it was its management that uncovered the fraud and later handed over the suspects to the EFCC. It added that those linked to the scam were either summarily dismissed or indefinitely suspended depending on the level of their involvement. The now-ex-CBN staff arraigned today are Patience Okoro Eye (Abuja), Afolabi Olufemi (Lagos), Kolawole Babalola (Ibadan), Olaniran  Muniru Adeola (Ibadan), Fatai Yusuf, Adekunle (Head, Security, CBN, (Ibadan) and Ilori Adekunle Sunday (Akure).

The apex bank said that it had on November 3, 2014, lodged a petition to EFCC inviting the agency to take over the investigation and prosecution of the cases which involved the swapping of currency boxes containing mutilated naira notes meant for routine destruction at its Ibadan branch. The total amount involved in the scam is N6,575,549,370.00.

This illegal act which began as far back as 2011, according to CBN officials, came under scrutiny barely two months of resumption of office of the current Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who insisted on and ordered a full investigation which produced evidence of fraud.

According to a statement from the apex bank, “During a routine internal audit of the Bank’s Cash Destruction activities in September 2014, the CBN Briquetting Panel comprising Senior Bank Staff from different branches noticed some anomalies at the Ibadan Branch, and immediately reported this to the Bank’s Management. On further investigation ordered by the Governor, it was discovered that a systematic scheme, which has been on for several years, was being run in which mutilated higher denomination notes originally meant for destruction were swapped with lower denomination currencies.”

The statement continued: “As soon as the Bank’s internal investigations concluded beyond reasonable doubt that some wrongdoing had occurred, the affected members of staff who are middle-level officers were, depending on gravity of offence, either summarily dismissed or immediately placed on indefinite suspension on 21 October 2014, and all handed over to the EFCC for further investigation and prosecution.”

Source: News Express

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