N38b theft: S’Court gives nod for trial of ex-Finbank directors

By Abimbola Fashakin, Lagos

The Supreme Court has ruled that a Former Managing Director of Finbank Plc (now defunct), Okey Nwosu and three Executive Directors of them bank, Dayo Famoroti, Agnes U. Ebubedike and Danjuma Ocholi should be tried by the court on allegations bordering on theft of N38b.By the judgment of the apex court, they have lost in their bid to quash the charge of stealing brought against them by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In its judgment on Friday, the court upheld the appeal by the EFCC and thus set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, which earlier quashed the charge on the grounds that it amounted to an abuse of court process.

The apex court, in a unanimous judgment of a seven-man panel, faulted the reasoning of the Court of Appeal in relation to its finding that the decision by the EFCC to charge the four bankers for stealing
before the Lagos High Court.

It simultaneously maintained a charge of money laundering against them on related facts before the Federal High Court, would expose them to double jeopardy.

The court directed the bankers (who are respondents in the appeals) to submit themselves for trail. It remitted the case back to the Lagos State Chief Judge for expeditious trial.

The lead judgment on the appeal SC/74/2014 was used to decide two
other appeals (marked: SC/73/2014 and SC/75/2014) on similar issues,
Justice Musa Datijo Muhammad, in the lead judgment held that it was
unreasonable to suggest that the prosecution of the respondents by the
appellant at the trial court was aimed at either irritating or
annoying them or is a bid by the prosecution to stall the effective
and efficient administration of justice.
Based on a petition by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), accusing the
bankers of “financial misappropriation and false misrepresentation of
financial records” during their tenure on the management of Finbank
Plc, the anti-graft agency conducted investigation and made startling
findings.

The EFCC found among others, that the respondents had allegedly
incorporated seven pseudo companies and at various occasions,
transferred funds from Finbamk to the fake companies through two
separate broker companies.

The anti-graft agency also found that funds of the bank in excess of
N20billion had been transferred through Springboard Trust and
Investment Limited ostensibly as loans to the seven fake companies
even though the companies even though the companies neither maintained
any accounts with the bank nor applied for any such loans.

The commission further discovered that over N18b had illegally been
transferred to another stock broking company, Integrated Trust
Investment Company Limited, which sum was utilized by the company to
acquire several units of shares of Finbank Plc in the names of the
seven pseudo companies incorporated by the respondents.

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