Union Bank fraud: Court adjourns trial of Peter Ololo, bank executives

Peter Ololo was the boss of indicted Falcon Securities

A defence counsel, Dapo Olanipekun, on Monday, prayed a Federal High Court in Lagos to stay proceedings in a suit filed against some former chief executives of Union Bank Plc, and Falcon securities Ltd.

The accused include a former Managing Director of Union Bank, Barthlomew Ebong; former directors of the bank, Henry Onyemem, Niyi Opeodu, and Samuel Anyininuola; Falcon Securities Ltd, and its Director, Peter Ololo.

They are charged by the EFCC on a 20-count charge bordering on money laundering.

When the case was mentioned, Mr. Olanipekun, counsel to the third accused, Mr. Opeodu, informed the court of a motion for stay of proceedings, pending the determination of an appeal at the appellate court.

The prosecutor, Kola Awodehin, in reply, told the court that he has filed a counter affidavit to the motion, and served same on the defence counsel, who said he required seven clear days to respond.

After hearing their arguments, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia adjourned the case till February 7 and 17, for hearing.

The accused were re-arraigned before Ms. Ofili-Ajumogobia on November 15, 2012, following the transfer of the former trial judge, Binta Murtala-Nyako, from the Lagos division.

They all pleaded not guilty to the charge, while Ms. Ofili-Ajumogobia had allowed them to continue with the earlier bail granted by Ms. Nyako.

The accused are alleged to have unlawfully granted loan facilities to themselves, without security, and above the approved limit, without lawful authority from the Central Bank of Nigeria.

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

Mr. Ololo was one of the largest debtors of non-performing loans in troubled banks, including Union Bank, bailed out by the Central Bank of Nigeria. Investigations by the rested NEXT Newspapers showed that Mr. Ololo connived with bank executives to help manipulate share prices of banks on the stock exchange.

Mr. Olanipekun had challenged the competence of the charge against his client (the third accused), adding that it disclosed no cause of action against him.

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

The offence is said to contravene the provisions of Section 2(3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, and punishable under Section 2(5) of the same Act.

(NAN)

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