₦25.7 Billion Theft, Court Convicts Former Bank PHB’s Manager Francis Atuche, Ugo Anyanwu
NewsReport June 17, 2021
NewsReport gathered that the former Managing Director of the bank PHB, Francis Atuche, and the ex-Chief Financial Officer of the Bank Ugo Anyanwu were sentenced to 126 years’ jail on the Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja on Wednesday for stealing the bank’s N25.7 billion loot.
Anyanwu, the 3rd accused in the twenty-seven count amendment, has been sentenced to eighty-four years of imposition.
In a judgment lasting about 12 hours, the President-in-Office judge Justice Lateefat Okunnu found that EFCC had established its case without reasonable doubts against the condemned.
The judge further concluded that the offenses against the convicts could not be regarded simply as professional carelessness but as a crime.
The Court also found Atuche and Anyanwu to misuse their authority and ignored regulations and established procedures, therefore endangering the bank and depositors’ funds.
The court further stated that the convicts used their positions corruptly and gave themselves unreasonable financial advantages regardless of the health of the bank.
However, the court exonerated Atuche’s wife of the conspiracy allegation and the robbery.
Judges Okunnu held that the EFCC could not associate it with the crime, adding that suspicion cannot take place irrespective of how strong.
She said she did not know the source of her husband’s fund and had no authority to make a choice about the influence on the transaction. She said it was unproven.
The EFCC claimed that the accused stolen roughly N25.7bn belonging to the bank between November 2007 and April 2008.
The anti-graft agency has claimed that out of the total N25.7bn allegedly stolen by the accused persons, EFCC claimed that they stole about N14.7bn by fraudulently describing it as a loan to some companies and subsequently converted the said sum to personal use.
The Commission had further told the court that the companies included Future View Securities, Extra Oil Limited, Resolution Trust and Investment Limited, and Tradjek Nigeria Ltd.
The said sum used for purchasing the shares, EFCC alleged, was described as a loan to some companies including, Guesstrade Services, Sentron Trading, Montrax Investico, Claremount Management Ltd., Trenton Trade, and others.
The anti-graft agency had closed its case against the defendants on March 4, 2013, after calling 12 witnesses, who gave oral evidence and issuing subpoenas to six other persons to present some documents which were admitted as exhibits by the court.
In his allocates before the court, the convict, Atuche prayed for the court to temper justice with mercy.
“I asked for mercy from my lord, I am a professional banker and never thought I will end my career this way. Please, I don’t want to go to jail. I have been remorseful in the last 10 years that we have been on this matter. Today will definitely be a turning point in my life,” he said.
The second convict, Anyawu in his plea for mercy asked the judge to show him mercy.
“I am very sorry my lord, I asked that you have mercy on me. I am a father of young kids who are not even teenagers yet.
After listening to the convicts, Justice Okunnu held that she has considered the plea of the convict, there must be consequences for wrongdoing and sentences are not just for punishment but also for deterrent.
“The convict stole from the bank and depositors and because of their action, taxpayers’ money was used to bail out the bank.
She also ruled that the defendant should restitute the amount stolen from the bank. They are to pay back the sum of N25.7billion to the Federal government to replace the fund taken from the public coffers to bail out the bank.