N3.6bn Fraud: How Omatsuli, Co-Defendant Moved Over N1bn NDDC Funds To Private Accounts-Witness
A prosecution witness, Soridei Akene, in the ongoing trial of Tuoyo Omatsuli, a former Executive Director on Projects, Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC, and Francis Momoh, on Friday, April 12, 2019, told Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how over N1bn was moved from the Commission to some private companies belonging to the defendants and other individuals.
The defendants, who were charged alongside their companies, Don Parker Properties Limited and Building Associates Limited respectively, were arraigned on November 10, 2018 on a 45-count charge bordering on conspiracy and money laundering to the tune ofN3,645,000,000 (Three Billion, Six Hundred and Forty-Five Million Naira).
The defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges preferred against them and were subsequently granted bail on November 16, 2018 in the sum of N100 million each with two sureties in like sum.
At today’s proceedings, Akene, a Compliance Officer with Heritage Bank Plc, told the court that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, sometime in January, 2015, requested him to furnish it with the account opening documents and statements of accounts of four companies – College Pro Technology, Asiladrine Global Consultancy, Human Oil and Gas Limited and Starline Consultancy Services Limited, which he did.
The documents were tendered by the prosecution counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, and admitted in evidence by the court.
In his further testimony, Akene, who is the third prosecution witness, PW3, told the court that over N1billion was transferred from the NDDC into the companies’ accounts from 2014 to 2016.
Akene further told the court that monies transferred into the accounts of these companies were further transferred into some individuals’ accounts and also to Building Associates Limited.
Akene, during cross-examination by the defence, told the court that he had never met any of the defendants.
He also said that 90 percentage of the funds moved from the NDDC was transferred to Starline Consultancy Services Limited owned by one Ibinabo Michael West, who is also the sole signatory to the company’s account.
“Ibinabo Michael West received these monies and made several withdrawals, both cash and transfers”, the witness said.
Akene admitted that he made statements to the EFCC when he was invited by the Commission.
He also admitted that none of the defendants was a director in any of the companies, where funds were moved into.
Justice Seidu adjourned the case to June 10, 11, 25 and 26, 2019 for continuation of trial.