27th July, 2011
An Ikeja High Court in Lagos has heard how former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Erastus Akingbola, allegedly transferred the bankâ€™s 8.5 million pounds into his domiciliary account.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akingbola and an associate, Bayo Dada, are standing trial before Justice Habeeb Abiru for allegedly stealing N47.1 billion belonging to the bank.
At the resumed trial on Tuesday, Mr Abdulraheem Jimoh, Intercontinental Bankâ€™s Chief Inspector, alleged that Akingbola converted the sum to his own use.
Jimoh, who was being led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Mr Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), told the court that the illegal transfers were made between March 16th and May 13th 2009 .
He alleged that Akingbola used Inter-Capital Market Limited (ICML), a subsidiary of the bank, to carry out the transaction by unilaterally increasing its lifeline from N2 billion to N5 billion.
The witness said: â€œthey had a lifeline of N2 billion which, as at the time of this transaction, had been completely used. On March 11, 2009, ICML applied for an increase from N2 billion to N5 billion.
â€œThe application was made to the Executive Director Investment and Strategy (Intercontinental) and the request was recommended and approved by the ED.â€
He said that the normal process was for the bankâ€™s Board Risk Committee to ratify and approve such a request when it was a necessity.
â€œIn this case there was no approval or ratification,â€ he added.
According to him, it was from this increase that ICML gave N2.1 billion to another company, Regal Investment Company Limited, owned by Dr Raymond Obieri, the Chairman of Intercontinental Bank.
Jimoh alleged that the N2.1 billion was distributed to six bureau de change operators who converted it to foreign currencies by selling it to their customers.
The said the bureau de change operators later paid the money back into the bankâ€™s Inter-Departmental Suspense (IDS) Account, Jimoh added.
He said that the sum of 8.5 million pounds was paid by a lady called Loveth into the account of Fulgher, a United Kingdom-based company in charge of leasing Intercontinental Bank offices.
The money, he said, was paid into Fulgherâ€™s account with Royal Bank of Scotland.
The witness said the money was later transferred to Akingbolaâ€™s domiciliary account which was an irregular banking practice.
He said: â€œwhat we observed is that as at the time of the transfer of the 8.5 million pounds to Scotland, Akingbola did not have sufficient amount in his domiciliary account.
â€œHe had only 10,043 pounds in his account. Ordinarily, banks do not transfer fund to customers whose accounts are not credited and Intercontinental Bank does not transfer funds from its NOSTRO account either.â€
Jimoh claimed that Intercontinental Bank had no transaction with Fulgher on such an amount and therefore the transaction was not a transaction of the bank.
Earlier, Akingbolaâ€™s lawyer, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, had brought two applications dated July 15 and July 19 respectively, before the court. Fagbohungbe asked the court to discontinue the trial pending the hearing of the applications.
This was opposed by the EFCC, who claimed that the defence was trying to frustrate the trial and asked the court to dismiss them.
Abiru, however, ruled in favour of the prosecution and ordered that the trial should continue because the applications could still be heard any other time.
NAN reports that the matter was adjourned till October 11 for continuation of trial and possible hearing of the applications.