N32bn Fraud: Lagos court fixes date for trial of Indian businessman

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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday fixed February 2 for continuation of trial of a Nigeria-based Indian businessman, Patrick Fernandez, charged with N32 billion fraud.

The case, which was initially slated for trial, was stalled due to the absence of the Judge, Justice John Tsoho, who was said to be on official assignment elsewhere.

A new date, February 2, 2016 was, therefore, fixed for the trial.

At the last adjourned date on October 27, trial could not also go on due to the absence of the counsel to the accused, Mr James Ocholi (SAN).

The court had granted an adjournment, but noted that as a criminal trial, it ought to be dealt with expeditiously.

Fernandez was charged alongside his companies on 56 counts– bordering on fraud.

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He was alleged to have committed fraud against various commercial banks in Nigeria to the tune of about N32 billion.

A prosecution witness, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, during examination, had narrated how huge sums of money were discovered in the accused of the accused in various banks.

Adebayo told the court that when the banks were interviewed, they informed the EFCC that the accused had applied for a cheque discounting facility.

“During interviews with the banks, we were informed by officials that the huge amount was related to loans granted to the accused”.

When asked whether the EFCC had authority to question bank loans, Adebayo had said that the commission could demand for documents in relation to any account, where reasonable suspicion of fraud exists.

The offence is said to have contravened the provisions of sections 314 of the Criminal Code Laws of the Federation 2004.

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