Home General Court adjourns Francis Atuche, Ojo’s N125bn fraud trial

Court adjourns Francis Atuche, Ojo’s N125bn fraud trial

Oladimeji Ramon

The Federal High Court in Lagos adjourned till Friday, March 15, for further hearing in the N125bn fraud trial of a former managing director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche.

Atuche is facing 45 counts alongside a former executive director of the defunct Spring Bank Plc, Charles Ojo.

Justice Ayokunle Faji, on Thursday, adjourned till Friday for further cross-examination of the first prosecution witness in the 10-year-old trial.

The prosecution accused them of reckless granting of loans running into billions between 2006 and 2009 to Platinum Capital Limited, a company in which they both allegedly had interest.

The loans were alleged to have been granted without adequate security; an act the EFCC said violated Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap 38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The prosecution further alleged that Atuche and Ojo conspired to grant billions of naira loans to one Futureview Service Limited “without adequate security and contrary to accepted banking practice.”

They were said to have acted contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Bank (Recovery of Debt) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, and liable to be punished under Section 16(1)(a) of the same Act.

Also allegedly granted loans without adequate security by the defendants were Petosan Oil and Gas Limited, Tradjek Nigeria Limited and Extra Oil Limited.

In one of the counts, Atuche and Ojo were accused of “failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure the correctness of the June 2009 Bank PHB monthly bank returns to the Central Bank of Nigeria.”

They were also alleged to have on December 24, 2008 “injected the sum of N650m into Insurance PHB Limited,” contrary to Section 21(2)(a) of the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act Cap B3, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.”

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They have, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

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