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Ecobank: EFCC narrates how customer was allegedly defrauded of $50,000, N9.2m

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Lagos Zonal office, on Tuesday, arraigned Ecobank Plc before Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on a five-count charge bordering on conversion of funds to the tune of $50,000 and N9.2million.

Ecobank is facing trial alongside one of its employees, Anieka Udoh.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ecobank Plc and one Anieka Udoh, whilst being an employee of Eco Bank Plc sometime in 2009, at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Honourable court, negligently failed to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major General Umaru Mohammed and fraudulently converted Major General Umaru Mohammed’s Ecobank MasterCard Account No. 0015052989 from debit card to credit card and consequently debited Major General Umaru Mohammed’s account in the sum of over USD 50,000 (Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) without the knowledge and authority of Major General Umaru Mohammed.”

Another count reads: “That you, Ecobank Plc and one Anieka Udoh, whilst being an employee of Eco Bank Plc sometime in 2009, at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Honourable court, negligently failed to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major General Umaru Mohammed and fraudulently converted Major General Umaru Mohammed’s Ecobank Domiciliary account to Naira account Number 0015052989 without the knowledge and authority of Major General Umaru Mohammed and consequently left a debit of N9.2Million in the said Naira account.”

At the scheduled arraignment on March 7, 2019, the first defendant, Ecobank had no legal representative.

However at today’s sitting, the first defendant, Ecobank Plc represented by E. Majemite, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against it.

Counsel to the second defendant, Udoh O.J. Owoh informed the court about a pending application for bail on behalf of his client, who pleaded not guilty to the charge when he was arraigned.

In her response, counsel to the prosecution, Bilkisu Buhari, objected to the bail application, stating that “the defendant is a flight-risk if granted bail.”

Justice Seidu, after listening to both parties, admitted the second defendant to bail in the sum of N20 million and two sureties in like sum.

One of the sureties must be a relation to the second defendant, resident in Lagos and have a landed property in Lagos, whose title documents must be verified by the court.

The second surety must be a civil servant on grade level 16 in Lagos.

The judge also directed that the credentials of the second surety must be verified by the court.

Justice Seidu ordered the second defendant to be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of his bail conditions and adjourned to April 9 and 11, 2019 for commencement of trial.

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Queen’s Counsel, Fidelis Oditah, Beneficiary Of $1.3 billion Malabu Oil Deal, Testifies in Milan



Fidelis Oditah, a Queen’s Counsel and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), whose company- Indigo Drilling drilled the Eaton field- one of the two fields been developed in the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 245 block, on Wednesday testified in the Milan court in Italy, as a consultant for Eni, one of the two companies standing corruption charges for the unwholesome sale of the block in 2011.

Indigo, which is jointly owned by Oditah Ibeneche, is part of the Transocean group of companies.

Transocean says that Indigo,”is jointly owned by Transocean and its local Nigerian partners, Chima Ibeneche and Fidelis Oditah, SAN. According to the company which managed the Deep water Horizon rig that spilled 210 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico in 2011, ‘Indigo operates Transocean’s rigs in Nigeria.

Transocean’s Deepwater Pathfinder drill vessel, drilled Etan-1X in OPL 245 to a Total Depth of 4,574 m in 1,720 m of water.

The well was said to have logged 120 m of hydrocarbon-bearing sands. Oditah did not declare to the Milan court that he has interest in the block before taking the stand to give his summation on the 2011 six-party agreement reached between the Federal Government of Nigeria, Malabu oil and Gas, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell (RDS), Eni and its Nigerian subsidiary Nigeria Agip Exploration (NAE).

“Mr President to sum up, I believe that the challenge to the 2011 Resolution Agreement of Shell and ENI is just politically motivated by the FGN under pressure by international NGOs”.

Oditah made this conclusion, despite overwhelming evidence showing a webbed trail of kickbacks and sleazy deals that mandated the Milan prosecutor to begin trial after four years of investigation.

Connection to Kola Aluko
As a lawyer with expertise in solvency and corporate structures, Fidelis Oditah is no stranger to the corrupt entrails of the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.

Septa, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to Seven Energy International- a company Oditah served as non-executive Board member to between 2012 and 2016, received at least $26 million in loans from a firm called Arcadia. According to civil organizations- Global Witness, Corner House, and Re:common who have been providing evidence to the Milan prosecutor, says Arcadia collected $4 million from Rocky Top, one of the companies used to move proceeds of the payments made to Malabu Oil and Gas to the accounts of persons within and outside Nigeria.

The said $4 million remittance made to Arcadia by Rocky Top, was done on behalf of Septa. This same fund, was used to repay a loan to Ark, a company controlled by Kola Aluko- a former Deputy CEO of Septa).

Aluko is under investigation in Nigeria and the UK for money laundering on behalf of Alison Madueke-Nigeria’s Minister of petroleum Resources under Goodluck Jonathan.

Septa has since repaid loans worth $9 million to Arcadia for funds borrowed by Aluko. Aluko has been accused of using Seven Energy and Atlantic Energy to launder funds- a claim all parties deny. Oditah’s involvement with illicit monies predate’s Kola Aluko.

According to an online source, Professor Oditah received N5.7 million from a Zenith Bank Asaba branch account set-up by Ibori. The money was paid to him in three installments.

Oditah is also the Director of Vetiva, the financial service company that served as joint financial advisor and joint stockbroker for Notore Chemicals during the latter’s float on the Nigeria Stock Exchange. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the London Metropolitan Police have labelled Notore as a front for James Ibori.

Surprisingly, naught of this was mentioned on the prospectus for the firm’s listing on the stock exchange. Contrastingly, the allegation of Seven Energy’s involvement with Kola Aluko was stated on its bond issue.

In April, Dayo Ayoade, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, had iformed the Milan court that the Resolution Agreement that saw OPL 245 trasnfered to Shell and Eni, was an illegal deal.

He was followed by Stephen Rogers An expert from British firm Arthur D. Little, who observed that the valuation of the block itself as at April 29 2011 was far higher than the $1.3 billion officially paid for the block but siphoned into private pockets. Rogers said the value of the block was in the region of $3.5 billion.

The registration date of Indigo Drilling on the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) website, is given as 2011-08-05, which is shortly after the April date of the resolution agreement.

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FG threatens Unity Bank over N7bn alleged debt

The Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property says it will slam a charge of economic sabotage on Unity Bank if it refuses to return the over N7 billion it was owing the Federal Government.

The Head, Media and Communication of the Panel, Ms Lucie-Ann Laha, gave the warning in a statement in Abuja on Monday.

According to her, the sum represents 15,561,769.99 dollars and N1,488,455,810.90 being excess and arbitrary charges on accounts of some agencies of government by the bank before the implementation of Treasury Single Account (TSA) system.

She said that the agencies included Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigeria Custom Service (NCS), the Kaduna Refinery and NIMASA, NAN reports.

“Unity Bank, which had agreed to this amount in February, has neither proffered a payment plan nor demonstrated good faith by actually initiating payments.

”Instead, the bank has severed all communications with the Panel in this regard.

“It may be recalled that the panel had commissioned a team of experts, including forensic auditors, to look into the operations of accounts of MDAs in commercial banks within the country prior to the commencement of TSA,” Laha said.

The spokesperson said that the exercise had unearthed some sharp practices and elicited indictments.

She added that some of the indicted banks had since agreed to a refund plan and in fact commenced payments.

“Unity Bank has, however, not made any move in this regard.

“The Panel is unrelenting in its resolve towards ensuring that economic saboteurs are brought to book and looted public property, including money, duly returned to government.”

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Ex-CBN director reacts to FG’s plan to charge VAT on online transactions

Dr Titus Okunronmu, a former Director, Budgetary Department, Central Bank of Nigeria, has commended the Federal Government over its plan to charge Value Added Taxes (VAT) on online Business Transactions.

Okunronmu gave the commendation in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ota, Ogun, on Monday.

He spoke against the backdrop of the disclosure by Mr Tunde Fowler, the Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Services, in London on Friday that the Federal Government would soon start collecting VAT on online business transactions.

The former CBN director noted that the decision was a right step in the right direction as it would help to generate additional revenue for the country.

‘‘For the fact that people do manual online transactions does not mean they should not pay VAT to the Federal Government,’’ he said.

He however called on the Federal Government to ensure that the VAT should not be more than five per cent.

Okunronmu also advised the Federal Government to look for other means of generating additional revenues to boost the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

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