At the resume hearing of the ongoing trial of the former Managing Director of Bank PHB ( now Keystone Bank), Francis Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth Atuche and a former top management staff of the bank, Ugo Anayanwu, at the Ikeja High Court, Lagos, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission presented another witness, PW 7, Mrs Ifetayo Obi, who works in Treasury Operations section of KeyStone Bank..
While being led in evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Kemi Pinhiero, SAN Mrs Obi told the court that she received a mail from Anayanwu that she should transfer over N10 billion to Futureview Securities, Falcons Securities and some other accounts. She told the court that based on the fact that there was no customer instruction that the money should be transferred or paid into their accounts, she forwarded the mail to her divisional director. “When I received the mail and approval of chief financial officer, transfers were effected.” Till date, she said she has not seen the customer instruction. When asked whether it was the normal practice in banking to transfer money to customers account she said no. “Normally it is supposed to come with customer signed instruction. So I reported to my immediate boss, Kingsley who took the mail and said he would get back to me. He later came back with the same document signed by the bank Chief Finance Officer. So when I received the go-ahead from my divisional director, we carried out the instruction.
Proceedings continue tomorrow when the witness is expected to be cross examined by the defence counsel. However, Justice Lateefa Okunnu has fixed March 22- 26 for the continuation of trial.
The prosecution at the last adjourned date called its 5th witness (PW5), one Mrs. Helen Eriyo, a Senior Associate Officer of Keystone Bank (formerly Bank PHB). The witness was led in evidence by the lead prosecution counsel, Kemi Pinheiro, SAN.
The witness, who marketed Petosan Oil & Gas Ltd and Resolution Trust Ltd, gave evidence to establish her resumption in Bank PHB Plc on the 3rd of December, 2007. She also identified her employment letter already tendered through the officer of the bank, PW4. Kemi Pinheiro SAN led the witness through the account opening package of Petosan Oil & Gas which she signed off on the 24th of December 2007, thus concluding the account opening procedure for Petosan Oil & Gas Ltd. The witness identified the application for loan and credit approval forms of Petosan Oil & Gas Ltd bearing October 2007 date, prior to her employment and resumption in the bank. She also identified the signature of the 1st defendant, Mr. Francis Atuche on these documents. This evidence also assisted the prosecution to establish the fact that these facilities were contrived. She further gave evidence to establish that these companies never applied for any credit facility from the bank and that as relationship manager she was never aware of these facilities.
Atuche was first arraigned by the EFCC at the Federal High Court Lagos in 2009. He was later granted bail on stringent conditions. However, he was re-arraigned alongside his wife, Elizabeth by the EFCC at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja in 2010 for alleged stealing of depositors’ fund.
Media & Publicity Unit
1st February, 2012