Alleged N4.9bn Laundering: Trial Of Fani-Kayode, Others Resumes

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A file photo of Mr Femi Fani-Kayode.

 

 

The trial of a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, as well as former Minister of Finance, Nenadi Usman, and two others on charges of fraud and money laundering resumed on Tuesday.

The case continued at the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, with the cross-examination of the third prosecution witness, Mr Shehu Shuaibu, a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In continuation of his testimony, Shuaibu told Justice Rilwan Aikawa under cross-examination that funds were illegally transferred from the Ministry of External Affairs into a private firm, Joint Trust Dimensions Ltd, without any contract being awarded.

The company is the fourth defendant in the N4.9 billion fraud trial brought by the anti-graft agency against Fani-Kayode and Usman, as well as Yusuf Danjuma who is a former Chairman of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON).

It is said to be the personal company of the third defendant, Danjuma.

The EFCC had charged the defendants with 17 counts for which they all pleaded not guilty and were subsequently granted bail by the court.

In answer to questions from the first defence counsel, Ferdinand Orbih, the witness told the court on Tuesday that as an investigator with the EFCC, he personally took the statements of the defendants.

The witness also testified that from his findings, there were huge inflows of money from the Ministry of External Affairs to the Account of Joint Trust Dimensions Ltd.

He said that he could find no trace of any contract between the firm and the ministry to warrant the payment of the funds.

Shuaibu, however, agreed with the defence counsel that the cash inflows into the account of Joint Trust was not limited to the ministry, as funds also came in from companies and individuals.

He confirmed “N500 million from Global Scan System Ltd on February 11, 2015; N300 million from Diamond Bank on January 30, 2015; N250 million from Castillo Torres BDC Ltd on February 11, 2015; N100 million from Afri Gate Energy Ltd; and N500 million from Chief Emeka Ofor on March 13, 2015.”

As to whether he was aware that the account was opened for the purpose of receiving donations for campaigns for the 2015 general elections, the witness said he was not sure if the funds were truly donations, as some of those who allegedly donated monies were still being investigated.

The judge, thereafter, adjourned cross examination in the case until February 26.

In the charge, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offences between January and March 2015.

In counts one to seven, they were alleged to have unlawfully retained over N3.8 billion which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of the proceeds of an unlawful act of stealing and corruption.

In counts eight to 14, the defendants were alleged to have unlawfully used over N970 million which they reasonably ought to have known formed part of an unlawful act of corruption.

Fani-Kayode and one Olubode Oke, who is said to be at large, were alleged to have made cash payments of about N30 million, in excess of the amount allowed by law, without going through a financial institution in counts 15 to 17.

He was said to have made payments to one Paste Poster Co (PPC) of No 125 Lewis St., Lagos, in excess of amounts allowed by law.

All offences were said to have contravened the provisions of sections 15 (3) (4), 16 (2) (b), and 16 (5) of the Money laundering (prohibition) (Amendment) Act, 2012.

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