I Didn’t Interrogate Akingbola, Says EFCC Witness

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Erastus Akingbola
Erastus Akingbola

Davidson Iriekpen

A chief inspector at the defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc, Abdulraheem Jimoh, Thursday told the Federal High Court in Lagos that he did not interrogate the bank’s Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Erastus Akingbola, during his investigation.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), during Akingbola’s trial before Justice Mojisola Olatoregun, Jimoh, the second prosecution witness, said he relied on records of suspicious transactions.

The witness said he did not know whether Intercontinental Securities Limited (ISL), a subsidiary of Intercontinental Bank, fully liquidated a loan obligation to Regal Finance Limited, adding that he did not ask.

Asked if ISL could obtain facilities from other financial institutions, the witness said he did not know.

Asked whether Akingbola as MD/CEO could obtain facilities from other financial institutions, Jimoh said it had to be with board approval, but later changed his answer to “I don’t know”.

Asked whether he looked through ICL’s books and ledgers as the bank’s chief examiner, he said he did not.

On whether he asked Intercontinental Bank if action was taken on Regal Finance Ltd’s alleged indebtedness, he said he did not ask, adding that he did not look into ICL’s books before writing his report.

Asked if he knew anything about bank’s general ledger, he said: “I don’t know anything about Intercontinental Bank general ledger.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said Akingbola, between November 2007 and July 2008, “caused to be created a misleading appearance of active trading in the shares of Intercontinental Bank Plc on the Nigerian Stock Exchange by being connected with the utilisation of an aggregate sum of N179.385 billlion of the bank’s fund for the purchase of the bank’s shares.”

The commission said Akingbola converted N10 billion belonging to the bank by obtaining three manager’s cheques in the names of Tropics Properties Ltd, Tropics securities Ltd and Bankinson Nigeria Ltd, which he “owned and controlled”.

EFCC added in the charge: “The manager cheques were subsequently used to repay loan granted by Access Bank Plc to your companies and which sum you knew represented the proceeds of crime, to wit: stealing.”

The alleged offence violates Section 14 (1) of the Money Laudering Act of 2004.

In the 22-count charge, the prosecution alleged that Akingbola made an equity investment of N100million in Flexmore Technologies without a prior approval in writing of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

It said Akingbola failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure compliance with the requirement to maintain, at all times, the minimum capital adequacy ratio specified by the CBN in compliance with Section 13(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B3 Laws of the Federation 2004.

Akingbola was accused of granting “unsecured credit facilities” worth billions of naira to different companies, and of buying a London property at with 1.3million pounds taken from the bank’s Nostro account, among others.

The case was first handled by Justice Charles Archibong, who struck out the charge for lack of diligent prosecution. EFCC appealed.

Last May, the Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Appeal’s decision overruling Justice Archibong and directing Akingbola to face trial in the 10-year-old case.

Justice Olatoregun adjourned until April 4 and 5 for continuation of trial.