N87.5bn fraud: Ex-Afribank chief denies allegation of irregular transactions

The former bank chief is being tried for alleged fraudulent activities.

A former Managing Director of Afribank Plc (now Mainstreet Bank), Sebastine Adigwe, on Thursday denied engaging in irregular banking transactions.

Mr. Adigwe made the denial through his counsel, Anthony Idigbe, at the resumption of his trial before Justice Olabisi Akinlade of an Ikeja High Court.

The former bank chief is charged with stealing N87.5 billion belonging to the bank.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Mr. Adigwe alongside five other former directors of the bank – Osa Osunde, Isa Zailani, Chinedu Onyia, Henry Arogunde and Peter Ololo.

The first prosecution witness, Ndubuisi Osakwe, a former Head, Special Projects, Afribank, had told the court that the bank granted loans to some companies in September 2008. Mr. Osakwe said that the loans of between N13 billion and N15 billion were granted to the companies for the purchase of Afribank shares from the Capital Market.

He said that the beneficiaries of the facility included Rehoboth Assets Management Ltd., Falcon Securities Ltd., Resolution Trust Investment Ltd. and Petosan Oil and Gas Ltd.

According to him, these companies later issued cheques in various sums in favour of one of the bank’s subsidiaries, Afribank Securities Ltd.

The witness said that Afribank Securities Ltd. transferred the money into the account of Assets Management Nominees (ASEMAN) Ltd., also owned by the bank.

However, Mr. Idigbe, who cross-examined the witness on Thursday, said that the transactions followed normal banking procedures.

He said that the transactions were initiated to forestall a hostile takeover of Afribank by Bank PHB and Access Bank, which were buying large quantities of the bank’s shares.

“The funds were placed in ASEMAN’s account, which is controlled by the bank, as a form of security and to have control over the shares.

“The bank gave out its money to these companies. There was no movement of the funds to the personal account of the first defendant (Adigwe),” Mr. Idigbe said.


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