Atuche bought shares for 18 of his companies with Bank PHB’s money, says EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Monday accused a former Managing Director of Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, of fraudulently purchasing the bank’s shares for 18 of his companies.

David Nkpe, a field investigator with EFCC who made the allegation, also claimed that the shares, worth billions of naira, were purchased using funds belonging to Bank PHB.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr. Nkpe was testifying before an Ikeja High Court presided over by Justice Lateefat Okunnu at the resumed trial of the former bank chief.

The EFCC had charged Mr. Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth, and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, to court for alleged stealing.

The commission alleged that they stole more than N25.7 billion belonging to Bank PHB (now KeyStone Bank) between November 2007 and April 2008, while Mr. Atuche was the Chief Executive Officer.

Mr. Nkpe, who was being led-in-evidence by EFCC prosecutor, Kemi Pinheiro, claimed that the companies purchased the shares during a public offer by Bank PHB in May 2007.

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The witness alleged that Mr. Anyanwu had admitted in a statement to the EFCC that Mr. Atuche instructed him to purchase the shares on behalf of the companies.

The companies included Claremount Investment Ltd., Montrax Investico, Stanford Global Ltd., Arabian Probity, Consolidated Business Support Ltd., Commercial Trading Ltd and Filemon Enterprise.

It also included Oakwood Asset Ltd., Ventures Resources, Caledonia Enterprise, Financial Company Ltd., Claremount Asset Management Ltd. and Clairville Business Support.

Others are Gazali Yakubu Ltd., Afco Associate Ltd., Septron Trading Ltd., Guess-Trade Services Ltd and Nolly Investment Ltd.

He said a thorough investigation and confirmation from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) revealed that these companies were mainly owned by the Atuches.

“During our investigation, we discovered that the shares certificates were collected by Bank PHB company secretary, who during interrogation, admitted to us that he collected and transferred them to the owner (Atuche).

“The funds transferred by Bank PHB were then used to pay for the shares which were taken by these companies owned by Atuche and his wife,” Mr. Nkpe said.

According to him, these companies never repaid the money to Bank PHB, despite the fact that the transactions placed them on the top 1,000 list of the bank’s shareholders.

NAN reports that the matter was adjourned to Wednesday for the continuation of the trial.

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