EFCC arraigns 'wonder bank' operator

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Monday arraigned a wonder bank operator, Moses Samanja Audu, before Justice Mohammed Shuaibu of the Federal High court, Kaduna, on a one count charge bordering on fraudulent operation without license and obtaining under false presence.

Mr. Audu, charged alongside his company, Miriam Moses Ventures Limited, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Consequently, the defence counsel, Usman Ahmed, informed the court that he had earlier submitted an application for bail before it, which Justice Shuaibu quickly refuted saying there is no such application before him.

The prosecuting counsel, Jijah Bwala disclosed that she was served with a motion for bail application inside the courtroom and that she informed the defence counsel that she would need time to respond to the motion.

While adjourning the case to May 17th, 2012, Justice Shuaibu urged the prosecution to line up its witnesses as the trial will commence on that day after hearing the bail application.

Mr. Audu’s arrest followed a petition to the EFCC dated June 16, 2010, from A. O. Agbola of Cheakley Chambers on behalf of Miriam Ines Rotman (nee Garcia Milla Jurado), a citizen and resident of the Netherlands. The petitioner copied the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on the fraudulent activities of Mr. Audu who incorporated a wonder bank for the purpose of defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians and Mrs. Rotman, who was unwittingly made a director.

“To our client’s chagrin, she discovered that Mr. Audu has incorporated a business in Nigeria known as Miriam Moses Ventures (an amalgam of our client’s name and that of Mr. Audu), with our client’s name boldly listed as a Director and wife of Mr. Audu,” the petitioner said.

Mr. Agbola said that he had the instruction of his client to inform the EFCC that “Mrs. Rotman is not a partner, director or staff of Miriam Moses Ventures in any form whatsoever and she does not have and has never been involved in foreign exchange trading on behalf of the accused. Our client hereby disclaim any liability, whether criminal or civil, that may arise from the activities of Miriam Moses Ventures or Mr. Audu…For the purpose of emphasis, our client is neither married to Mr. Audu nor is she carrying out any business on his behalf in Netherlands or any other part of the world,” he said.

Some documents also circulated entitled “Plan” issued by Mr. Audu promised 100% return on any money invested in his business every 22 working days.

The promise had lured many honest and hardworking Nigerians to give their money to Mr. Audu/Moses Ventures.

M.A. Adegbite, Chairman, Implementation Sub-Committee of the Inter- Agency Committee on Illegal Fund Managers/ Wonder Banks’, on July 20, 2010 also wrote the EFCC on the activities of the Moses Ventures.

The one count charge reads “that you, Moses Samanja Audu and Miriam Moses Ventures Limited, sometimes between 2010 and 2011, at Kaduna, within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court transacted banking business by receiving deposits from the public, without a valid license from the central bank of Nigeria and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 2 (2) of the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act, Cap B3, Vol.2, laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004”.

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