- Category: Law, Crime & Judiciary
- Published on Friday, 05 March 2010 07:46
- Written by Admin
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The former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, will have his troubles with Nigeria’s anti graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), compounded as the commission prepares to seal off Mr. Atuche’s assets, worth more than 100billion naira, today.
The EFCC will today seal off 11 landed assets in Lagos, bank accounts, and company shares linked, directly or indirectly, to Mr. Atuche, pending the result of the criminal charges brought against the former bank chief, in accordance with the EFCC establishment Act.
In October 2009, the EFCC brought charges of money laundering and siphoning of funds against Mr. Atuche shortly after he was sacked by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), following the massive audit of all banks in the country.
“Based on the court order, the chairman [the EFCC chairman] has directed that operatives should begin to seal off the already identified property,” the spokesman of the commission, Femi Babafemi, said to NEXT in Abuja, yesterday.
Some of the assets which will be confiscated by the EFCC,include shares in Bank PHB, worth about 26 billion naira ; shares in Arik Ltd., worth about 310 million naira; shares in Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, worth about 1.5 billion naira; and 500 million shares in Afribank Plc. The other assets are landed property in the high brow areas of Lagos - Ikoyi, Victoria Island, and Victoria Garden City. In total, 14 landed assets in Nigeria and one in London, UK, will be seized from Mr. Atuche.
The assets are registered under various names, including his wife, Elizabeth Atuche, and 18 companies which have been linked to the former bank chief.
Depositors’ and Shareholders’ funds
Mr. Atuche, along with Charles Ojo, a former executive director of Bank PHB, are facing trial over an alleged N80 billion fraud. The duo are also facing trial for their roles in granting a credit facility of N45 billion without any collateral. The EFCC has so far, levelled 45-count charges against the former bank directors including granting loans without security, granting loans above approval limit as laid down by the regulations of the bank, acquisition of share capital without prior approval from the Central Bank of Nigeria, and also not taking steps to ensure the correctness of the June 2009 Bank PHB monthly bank returns.
Speaking with NEXT yesterday, an EFCC operative who asked not to be named, explained the need for the confiscation of the assets, saying that the actions of the anti graft agency is in the interest of shareholders and depositors.
“A lot of depositors’ funds, in billions, have been lost. The only way to secure a recovery of these funds is to seize their assets so that at the end of the trial, if they are found guilty, the assets can be sold to refund the money taken away or stolen by the bank chiefs,” he said.
The EFCC actions come amidst legal moves taken by Mr. Atuche asking the courts to squash the 45-count charge levelled against him by the anti-graft agency.