Nigeria’s EFCC arraigns ex-Skye Bank chair Tunde Ayeni over $70 million fraud

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The Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Thursday, March 7, 2019, arraigned a former Chairman, Board of Directors, Skye Bank Plc, Tunde Ayeni, before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of a Federal High Court in Abuja on a 10-count charge, bordering on money laundering to the tune of about N25 billion or about $70 million.

Ayeni was arraigned along with Timothy Ajani Oguntayo and two companies, Control Dredging Company Ltd and Royaltex paramount Ventures Ltd, for allegedly conspiring at different times to fraudulently divert depositors’ funds domiciled at the defunct Skye Bank Plc.

Ayeni and Oguntayo were on March 6, 2019 also arraigned by the EFCC before Justice Valentine Ashi of a Federal Capital Territory, FCT High Court, Apo, on a separate four-count charge bordering on criminal breach of trust to the tune of N4,597,500,000. Earlier, on December 17 2018, the duo were arraigned before Justice Nnamdi Dimgba of the FHC sitting in Abuja. Justice Dimgba has been transferred to Asaba Division of the FHC.

One of the latest counts read: “You, Tunde Ayeni, whilst being Chairman, Board of Directors of the defunct Skye Bank Plc and Timothy Ajani Oguntayo while being the Managing Director, MD, of the defunct Skye Bank Plc, on or about 24th December, 2014 at Abuja within the Abuja Judicial Division of this Honourable Court did conspire to commit an offence to wit, money laundering by transferring the sum of N3,000,000,000 (Three Billion Naira) from the defunct Skye Bank Plc Suspense account to the First City Monument Bank Plc of Control Dredging Company Limited, which money you reasonably ought to have known forms part of the proceeds of an unlawful act, to wit: fraud and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 18(a) and punishable under Section 15(2)(b) and (3) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 (as amended).”

They pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

Counsel for the first, third and fourth defendants, Wale Akonni, moved the bail applications for his clients arguing that the charges were bailable. Similar application was moved by Dele Adesina, SAN, counsel for the second defendant, for his client.

Counsel for the EFCC, Abba Mohamed, however, raised objections to the applications for bail.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Ojukwu, admitted the first and second defendants bail in the sum of N100 million and two sureties in like sum, who must be residents of Abuja with landed property. They are also to present tax clearances for 2016, 2017 and 2018, all of which must be verified by the court registrar.

The case has been adjourned to May 27, 28 and June 4, 2019.

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