Former Bank PHB Managing Director, Mr. Francis Atuche
By Akinwale Akintunde
Former Managing Director of Mortgages Bank PHB (a subsidiary of Bank PHB), Mr. Bolaji Ogunsola, Wednesday told an Ikeja High Court how monies belonging to the bank were advanced to some churches on the instructions of the former Managing Director, Mr. Francis Atuche.
Ogunsola made the assertion at the ongoing trial of the former MD of Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank), Atuche and two others over alleged stealing of N27.5 billion before Justice Lateefa Okunnu.
The prosecution witness said while he held sway in the subsidiary company, there was a call account being operated without a known operator but which everybody in the bank believed was owned by Atuche.
Ogunsola, under cross-examination led by counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Kemi Pinhero (SAN) specifically alleged that about N45 million was paid as tithe into St. Augustine Catholic Church and St. Monica Catholic Church from the bank’s account which amount to illegal transactions.
According to him, little or no effort was made to trace the owner(s) of the call account.
He said aside the fact that the file with which the account was opened was lacking in documentation, there was also no Memorandum of Understanding as well as mandate form.
He said this was in spite of letters written to authenticate the ownership of the two accounts.
The witness said funds were withdrawn from the account through e-mail from one Charity Okoma who was at the time Atuche’s secretary.
“We received e-mails as usual with a letter from Charity Okoma, who was secretary to the Managing Director. In the letter, we were asked to transfer money to St. Augustine Catholic Church and St. Monica Catholic Church, both in Ibusa, Delta State,” Ogunsola said.
Apart from the two churches, the EFCC listed other beneficiaries of embattled banker’ alleged largesse to include Punuka Firm, a law firm belonging to Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), who is also the counsel to Atuche, among others.
Earlier, two subpoena witnesses, Andy Izimoi from Mortgages PHB Limited and Daisi Boluwade (who first appeared on March 22, 2012) representing the Managing Director of Keystone Bank appeared before the court to tender some exhibits that were admitted as exhibits by the court.
Meanwhile, Atuche through his counsel, Anthony Idigbe (SAN) had filed an application praying the court to give an order recalling two prosecution witnesses to appear before the court for further cross examination.
The two witnesses are Mrs. Diamond Uju, the first prosecution witness and Mrs. Elizabeth Ebi, the third prosecution witness.
According to the defence, they should be called back for the purpose of eliciting further evidence susceptible of contradicting or challenging their testimonies in the interest of justice.
The application will be moved on October 14, 2012 when the matter is scheduled for further trial.