How Akingbola Transferred Billions To Offshore Accounts - Witness

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SAN FRANCISCO, November 15, (THEWILL) - The trial of former Managing Director of Intercontinental Bank Plc, Mr Erastus Akingbola and his associate, Mr. Bayo Dada resumed Tuesday with prosecution witness Jimoh Abdulraheem, a former chief inspector with the bank, detailing how he transferred funds to the offshore account of the 1st accused.

Led in evidence by defence counsel, Godwin Obla, Abdulraheem told the court that he was once invited by the EFCC to give statement about the movement of funds from Intercontinental Bank to various companies accounts on the instruction of Akingbola while he held sway as managing director of Intercontinental Bank. He went on to identify a copy of the statement he wrote on 28 January, 2011, which Obla subsequently urged the court to admit as exhibit but defence counsel, Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN objected, arguing that he needed time to study the document. The objection was however over ruled by the court and the document was admitted as exhibit.

Another document authorising the transfer of 1.3 million pounds was also tendered by Obla. After certifying that he recognises the document, the witness informed the court how he was ordered via an instruction memo to transfer the sum of 1.3 million pounds to the account of a British Law Firm, Fulgers Solicitors.

“I was authorised by Dr Akingbola to inform the Head of Funds Department, prior to the instructions, there were discussions that the said amount be transferred to the account of Tropic Finance limited. The instruction came via a memo and the order was swiftly carried out. Mr Akin Fabunmi who is the Head of Funds Department carried out the instruction,” he stated.

A copy of an unsigned memo conveying Akingbola’s instruction to effect the transfer was given to the witness to confirm if that was the memo containing the instruction. The witness confirmed the document which was subsequently admitted as exhibit.

As to the whereabouts of the originals, Jimoh said all original documents relating to the trial were lost in the cause of investigation. He continued that the instructions were carried out and the funds were transferred to the account of a British Law Firm, called Fulgers Solicitors.

Obla asked the witness if there was any evidence to back up what he said. The witness said an electronically generated swift message is attached to the unsigned memo which represents the confirmation of payment. He was asked if he would recognise the said message. He answered in the affirmative and the court handed him a copy of both the message which he confirmed. He said such messages are usually printed out of the computer if foreign account transfers are carried out.

But Counsel to Akingbola said the documents tendered are not original and urged the court not to admit them as exhibits. Obla responded saying the originals have been misplaced as stated by the witness in the process of investigation. He referred the court to section 97(1) C of the Evidence Act which said copies of documents can be admitted.

The objection was overruled by the court and the documents were admitted as exhibit

Another document tendered by Obla was a letter written to the bank by one Corporate Securities Nigeria Limited requesting that the bank should make a payment of 10 billion naira for some shares purchased for the bank. The letter listed how the payment was to be made to some companies. These companies are: Tropics Securities, Bankinson Nig. Ltd, and Tropics Properties. The letter was signed by Bayo Dada, who is a co- accused. The witness said that instruction was also carried out as the funds were taken from pre- payment account of the bank and credited to those companies. He said while investigations commenced, the bank management asked him to conduct investigations as to the movement of cheques issued to those companies and it was discovered that the three cheques have been deposited in those companies’ accounts at Access Bank Plc. Further investigations revealed that the companies were linked to Akingbola and his wife, Antonia. Jimoh said the instruction to effect payment was given by Akingbola through verbal instruction. A certain Mr Fabunmi then raised a memo to effect it.

Another N8.6 billion naira was also taken from the bank through the same General Ledger manipulation. Mr Akingbola had written a letter instructing that the said sum should be credited to the accounts of Tropics Properties Ltd., Bankinson Nig. Ltd and Tropics Finance ltd around May and June 2009. Through the same manipulation the sum of N3.35 billion naira was also moved via an instruction given by Tropics Finance ltd. to Bankinson Nigeria Ltd., a company where his wife Mrs Antonia Akingbola has interest.

Also on the 15 May, 2009, the sum of 350 million naira was paid into the account of Intercontinental Homes, 500 million naira was paid to the account of Intercontinental Securities and another 250 million naira was paid into the account of Intercontinental Capital Market, all subsidiaries of the bank. The said payment was effected based on a letter dated 18 May 2009, received from Bayo Dada of Tropics Finance. The witness said this particular transaction was manipulated as the date of transfer on the statement varied from the day the instruction was received.

The sum of 1.550 billion naira was also moved fraudulently on the 22 May, 2009 in the same manner. An instruction from Akingbola was passed to the bank for the said money to be moved into the accounts of Tropics Finance Limited and Associated Discount House. The sum of 1.5 billion was moved to Tropics account to be fixed for one month while 50 million naira was paid to Associated Discount House to pay off debt owned by Tropics Finance Ltd.

Before the prosecution called its witness, Obla made available the proof of evidence to the defence.

The case has been adjourned to November 16, 2011 for continuation of trial.

Akingbola and his associate Bayo Dada are standing trial on a 22-count charge bordering on stealing over N42.4 billion from the Intercontinental Bank Plc.