13th August, 2010
The embattled former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Dr. Erastus B. O. Akingbola was this morning arraigned before a Federal High Court in Lagos on a 22-count charge of granting unsecured loans, false and judicious transactions, granting non-performing loans and non-performance of banking rules.
In the 22-count criminal charge filed before Justice Mohammed Idris by a team of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, lawyers led by M. S. Hassan and Godwin Obla, it was alleged that Akingbola, while being the MD/CEO of Intercontinental Bank, was alleged between November 2007 and July 2008 to have 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 N179,385,000,000 of the bankâ€™s fund for the purchase of Intercontinental Bank Plc shares.
It was alleged that the fictitious transactions in the shares of the bank were done for the purpose of inflating or otherwise maintaining the market price of the bankâ€™s shares on the NSE; this was done to deceive the public by creating a false impression of the actual price of the bank.
The EFCC prosecutors also alleged that the former MD/CEO of the bank knowingly, recklessly, negligently, wilfully approved a credit facility in the sum of N8 billion to some companies among whom are: Sookok Holdings Limited, Simca Nigeria Limited, Harmony Trust and Investment Limited, Tofa General Enterprises and Stanzus with no security.
Akingbola was also accused of having failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the balance sheet and the profit and loss account of Intercontinental Bank Plc, gave a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the bank.
It was further alleged that Akingbola failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the balance sheet and the profit and loss account of Intercontinental Bank Plc gave a true and fair view of the state of affairs of the bank with regard to non-performing credit amounting to N87,610,000,000 which were wrongfully repacked as commercial papers, thus understating the non-performing loan portfolio of the bank.
During the month of May, 2009, Akingbola was also alleged to have failed to take all reasonable steps to secure compliance by Intercontinental Bank Plc with the requirement to maintain at all times the minimum capital adequacy ratio specified by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
All the offences were allegedly committed by the accused banker are contrary to Sections of the failed Banks, (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices In Banks Acts, Cap. 52, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under Section 16(1) (a) of the same Act. The offences were also alleged to have been committed contrary to Banks and other Financial Institutions Act, Cap. CAT B3 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Dr. Akingbola pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
Consequently, his counsel, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, leading two other senior advocates, Mr. Ricky Tafa and Deji Sasegbon, told the court that he has filed a bail application on behalf of Akingbola and if the prosecutors are not opposed to the bail application, he is ready to move or argue the bail application.
But Mr. Obla told the court that the EFCC was willing to oppose the bail application. He further told the court that the bail application filed by Fagbohungbe was served on them yesterday. And they needed at least 48 hours to respond.
Subject to agreement between the parties, the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned till 23 August for the hearing of the bail application.
Thereafter, the judge accepted the request of Fagbohungbe that Akingbola be remanded in prison custody.
On the eve of the CBN hammer that fell on five banks on 14 August, 2009, the sacked bank executives were advised to report to the EFCC. But Akingbola fled to London, where he stayed until his return last week Tuesday.
The CBN Governor, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, announced the sack and replacement of the bank executives.
Former Wema Bank boss, Mr. Mahmud Alabi, was appointed in place of Akingbola who later claimed he fled to London because he felt he would not get a fair trial in Nigeria.
He immediately surrendered himself to EFCC operatives.