The Lagos State High Court, sitting in Ikeja, has ordered the freezing of the assets and funds to the tune of N19, 178, 253,050 belonging to a convicted former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche.
The presiding Judge, Justice Lateefat Okunnu, gave the order on Tuesday, August 31, 2021, following an ex parte application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on August 17, 2021.
The funds, investigation showed, were domiciled in 24 different banks in Nigeria, including Citi Bank Limited; Ecobank Nigeria Limited; First Bank of Nigeria Plc; First City Monument Bank (FCMB); Globus Bank Limited; Fidelity Bank Plc; Keystone Bank Limited; Lotus Bank Limited and Mainstreet Bank Plc.
Others are: Polaris Bank Plc; Platinum Mortgage Bank Limited; Providus Bank Limited; Stanbic IBTC Nigeria Limited; Standard Chartered Bank; Sterling Bank Plc; Wema Bank Plc; Zenith Bank Plc; Unity Bank Plc; Titan Trust Bank Limited, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and others.
Moving the application, counsel to the EFCC, Kemi Pinheiro, (SAN), told the court that 15 persons, as well as 22 firms, were used by Atuche and his co-respondent, Ugo Anyanwu, a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, to launder the funds.
Pinheiro listed the individuals to include Anthony Atuche, Emeka Patrick Atuche, Paul Okobi, Felix Oyiana, Moruf Kazeem Adisa, Olatunji Abiodun, Daniel Enebeli, Aina Olugbenga, Augustine Nwabueze, Omonua Benedict, Oliver King Nduaaron, Dr. Chris Ike Ogbechie, Mr. Murat Bektaslar, Attah Omataikpo Olukemi and Thomas Etuh.
The EFCC counsel further stated that the firms, in which Atuche has either direct or indirect interest are: Aqua Harvest Limited, Hubmart Stores Limited, Hubmart Limited, Sapphire Capital Management Limited, Homeland Real Estate Company Limited, Malechi Foods Limited, Homeland Meridian Partners Limited, Promise Investment Limited and Temple Cottage Hotel Limited.
Others are: Wegas Properties Project Limited, Buckhead Construction Limited, Claremount Management Services Limited, Afco Associates Limited, Platinum Capital Limited, Ghazali Yakubu Investment Limited, The Financial (Services) Company Limited, Venture Resources Limited, Elizabeth-A Company Limited, Signature Partners Limited, Purplepay Technologies Limited, Oakwood Asset Management Limited and Conesto Nigeria Limited.
Justice Okunnu granted the 12 prayers of the applicant and also held that “the assets or funds included those held indirectly by or for Atuche’s benefit, whether solely or jointly held, that are located in Nigeria or worldwide”.
Justice Okunnu had, in June this year, sentenced Atuche to six years imprisonment and Anyanwu four years for stealing and conspiracy to steal to the tune of N25.7bn.
The judge, while sentencing the duo, had ordered them to make a restitution of the sum of N25.7bn to the Federal Government to replace the funds stolen from the public to bail out the bank.