Mr. Erastus Akingbola
Former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc (now Access Bank), Mr. Erastus Akingbola, Wednesday denied stealing N47.1 billion from the bank as alleged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Akingbola, who testified in the witness box for the first time before Justice Habeeb Abiru of an Ikeja High Court in Lagos Wednesday, said the allegations made against him by the EFCC was false and incorrect.
“The allegations are false and it is incorrect because I never posted, received or authorised any such amount and I did not receive or see any money. I didn’t convert Intercontinental Bank Plc funds fraudulently to Tropics Securities Limited”, he explained.
Akingbola and his associate, Mr. Bayo Dada, were charged to court by the EFCC for allegedly stealing the bank’s money to the tune of N47.1 billion.
According to the former bank chief, who was led in evidence by his counsel, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN), he never authorised or benefited from any of the transactions for which he is being prosecuted.
Specifically, Akingbola denied the allegation that he had between March and July 2009, transferred 8.5 million and 1.3 million Pounds Sterling belonging to the bank to Fulgher Solicitors, a United Kingdom-based law firm.
“The allegation is incorrect and false because money was not paid from the bank’s NOSTRO account but through the NOSTRO account.
“Like any other customer of the bank or any Nigerian that needs foreign exchange, I commissioned the bank to buy them for me whenever I need to.
“I put the naira equivalent down before they bought the exchange and my transfers did not go through until the naira equivalent were in the hands of our foreign operations department staff.”
He explained that, he financed the transaction through a N2.2 billion loan facility obtained from Regal Investment Company Ltd, owned by the Chairman of Board of Intercontinental Bank, Dr. Raymond Obieri.
Responding to the question on the source of the forex transferred for him, he said it is not his business to know because as a customer, buying foreign exchange he can’t be asking questions except there is a complain from the beneficiaries.
The ex-bank chief added that after sourcing the money, he instructed the bank’s head of foreign operations, Mrs. Ayoola Ayinde, to go ahead with the transfer.
He said he did not know if the transactions passed through his personal domiciliary account with the bank because there was no complaint from the beneficiary.
Akingbola, also admitted that though he was the chairman of Tropics Securities Ltd, Tropics Properties Ltd, Tropics Finance Ltd and Balkison Nigeria Ltd but he never authorised, signed or paid any money to Tropics Finance and he was not aware of the transactions on purchase of shares as he was not involved in the day to day running of the company.
The EFCC had claimed that Akingbola had used his influence to instruct the bank to pay N18.6 billion to these companies for the purpose of buying shares on behalf of the bank.
“I never processed, instructed or authorised such payments and neither did I received any money from these companies not to talk of stealing it.
“I am only a signatory to their accounts because I signed when the accounts were being opened about 15 years ago. I have never signed any cheque or document for these companies since then”, he said.
Akingbola said he was aware that Tropics Securities was made one of the major stock brokering of the bank in 2004 but did not know whether the company bought the said shares for the bank.