How ex-director defrauded advert giant of N1.767bn – Witness
An Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) witness, Akinlola Olapade, Monday told an Igbosere High Court, Lagos, that Mohammed Gobir, an ex non-executive director of Outdoor Advertising Company, Afromedia, defrauded the firm of N1.767 billion.
Olapade, Afromedia's Group Managing Director (GMD), testified Monday as the first prosecution witness before Justice Raliat Adebiyi that Gobir obtained the money from the firm in various currencies by false pretence.
Kwara State-born Gobir, 55, is accused of fraudulently obtaining $3,500,000 (N696, 675,000); N514, 457,151.87; $2,102,740 (N418, 171,903.80); N123 million and £51,000 (N14, 667,898.25) totalling N1.767b.
He is facing a 17-count charge bordering on obtaining money under false pretence, stealing, fraud, use of forged documents, and possession of forged documents preferred against him by the Commission.
Led in evidence by Mr. A.B.C. Ozioko, Olopade testified that Gobir was introduced to Afromedia sometime in 2008 through their Private Placement Consultants, Synergy Capital Advisory Limited, as a high net-worth investor willing to inject N1 billion into the company through the acquisition of shares.
And based on the defendant's touted pedigree, he was made chairman Business Development Committee (BDC) of Afromedia's board of directors.
According to the witness, the defendant allegedly used the position to defraud the firm.
'Having earned the trust of the company, Gobir started demanding large sums of money which he termed as consultancy fees to international consultants, Royal Exchange Bureau, in the United Kingdom in order to facilitate and secure investments from a UK-based bank.
'The company gave Gobir the sum of $1,000,000 in cash and also paid for his travel expenses on a first class return ticket to UK where he would meet with the purported investors, which investigation later revealed never existed nor was the meetings ever held,' the witness told the court.
The defendant, Olopade added, claimed that his $250,000,000, £250,00,000 and 250,000,000 Euros was frozen in London, and he needed to unfreeze it with $3,817,000 through a European Union Money Laundering Waiver Certificate.
However, after obtaining part of the money from Afromedia, Gobir allegedly presented a certificate that was confirmed by Trinity Solicitors in the United Kingdom, to be a forgery.
Olopade alleged that after obtaining other sums from Afromedia, the defendant sought to evade meeting with the firm, until his arrest by the anti-graft agency.
'We have electronic recordings of every meeting we had with him,' Olapade added.
The testimony of the witness will continue Tuesday. – The Nation.