Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Alleged N25.7b theft: Witnesses accuse Atuche, others of forging documents

Published:

Francis Atuche

The ex-Nigerian bank chief is accused of mismanaging banks funds while in office.

A former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, and his wife, Elizabeth, on Monday informed an Ikeja High Court of their intention to file a no-case submission application to the charges preferred against them.

Also to file a no-case submission application is Ugo Anyanwu, a former Chief Financial Officer of Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank Plc), who is being prosecuted alongside the Atuches.

The defendants were charged to court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion belonging to the bank.

Counsel to the defendants, Tayo Oyetibo, told the court that the prosecution had failed to establish that the defendants committed the alleged offences.

Meanwhile, two prosecution witnesses, Elizabeth Ebi and Diamond Uju, on Monday denied signing some documents purportedly requesting a N10.9 billion loan from Bank PHB.

The witnesses were recalled by the court on the instance of the defence, which claimed to have come in contact with some board resolutions made by the witnesses.

The witnesses earlier testified that the loans were granted to their companies— Integrated Services Ltd., Futureview Securities Ltd., Tradjeck Ltd. and Extra Oil Ltd., without their knowledge.

The board resolutions, which were tendered by the defence, were admitted by the court as Exhibits P267 to P271.

Mr. Oyetibo alleged that the board resolutions, which were purportedly signed by both witnesses, were used to obtain the loan facility from the bank.

The forgeries

In her testimony, Ms. Ebi maintained that the documents were not made by the companies.

She said:”I see something that looks like my signature but this document is not certainly from us.

“The letter-headed paper does not belong to Futureview.

“The email address and website of the company are not correct.

“Our board resolutions are always addressed to specific banks and the amounts involved in the loans are always specific.”

Also testifying, Mr. Uju insisted that his signatures on the board resolutions were forged.

“I saw the copy for the first time when the issue of recalling came up, and I told the prosecuting counsel that I have never seen them before,” he said.

Consequently, EFCC counsel, Kemi Pinheiro , informed the court that the prosecution had closed its case against the defendants.

The matter has been adjourned to April 17 for hearing of the no-case submission application.

(NAN)

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