Money laundering: Court adjourns trial of former Union Bank executives

By The Citizen
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A Federal High Court in Lagos on Friday fixed Feb. 17 for continuation of trial in a suit against some former executives of Union Bank Plc, charged with money laundering.

The accused are a former Managing Director of the bank, Barthlomew Ebong; Henry Onyemem, Niyi Opeodu and Samuel Anyininuola, former directors of the bank.

They are charged by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) alongside a company, Falcon Securities Ltd., and its Director, Peter Ololo, on 20 counts bordering on the offence.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Friday, the prosecutor, Mr Kola Awodehin (SAN), informed the court of a pending motion filed by the third accused for stay of proceedings.

He, however, informed the court that the prosecution had filed a counter affidavit and preliminary objection to the motion for stay, adding that the third accused just served him with a reply on Friday.

He, therefore, prayed the court for adjournment to enable him to study the counter affidavit to his processes filed by third accused.

Counsel representing the third accused, Dr Dapo Olanipekun, said that his reply was actually served on the prosecution in court on Friday and that he had no objection to the request for adjournment.

Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia consequently adjourned the case to Feb. 17 for continuation of trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the accused were re-arraigned on Nov. 15, 2012.

They were alleged to have granted loan facilities to themselves without security and above the approved limit, without lawful authority from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Ebong and other executives of the bank were also alleged to have granted several credit facilities to Falcon Securities, in connivance with its Director, Ololo, without collateral.

NAN recalls that Olanipekun has challenged the competence of the charge against his client (third accused), adding that it disclosed no cause of action.

The judge had, however, overruled the contention of defence counsel and held that the charge sufficiently disclosed a cause of action against the third accused.

He had then appealed against the ruling of the court, while he filed an application for stay of proceedings at the lower court, to abide by the decision of the court of appeal.

The offence is said to contravene the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004. (NAN)