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Monday, March 8, 2021

Alleged N2.2bn Fraud: Fayose’s name not on firm’s transaction record, says witness

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A Federal High Court in Lagos Monday heard that former Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, was not mentioned in allegedly suspicious financial transactions involving a firm, Still Earth Ltd.

Fayose is accused by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of procuring Still Earth Ltd and another firm, De Privateer Ltd, to illegally retain the aggregate sums of N851 million.

The N851 million is part of the N2.2billion the EFCC alleges that Fayose laundered alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd.

But an EFCC witness, Taiwo Ogundein, who told Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke how monies were deposited in tranches into Still Earth’s account, said the records of transactions did not bear Fayose’s name.

Fayose was arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside Spotless Investment on 11 counts bordering on fraud and money laundering offenses.

He was re-arraigned before Justice Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.

The defendant pleaded not guilty and was granted bail, while the case was adjourned for trial.

The commission has since opened its case before Justice Aneke, and is leading witnesses in evidence.

Led in evidence yesterday by EFCC counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), Ogundein introduced himself as a First Bank relationship manager adding that Still Earth’s account was moved to him for management.

He said he was invited by the EFCC in 2015 through his bank with respect to the company (Still Earth), adding that he was instructed to come along with its account opening package and statement of account.

He was asked several questions at the commission, and he answered the same with supporting documents.

The prosecutor then tendered before the court, the bank’s letter to the commission, which the court admitted and marked as exhibit F4.

The witness described page one of the document as being Still Earth’s signature mandate and account, while the next page was a certificate of identification confirming the statement.

Testifying from page 14 of the document, the witness told the court that on November 12, 2014, Still Earth gave various deposit instructions into its account totaling N34.8 million in four tranches.

He said on January 29 and 30, 2015 the account received inflows of N40million and N39.5 million, paid by Hoff Concepts Ltd and De Privateers Ltd respectively, while on January 30, there was an outflow from Still Earth of N70.7 million to another company, Capital Field Investment and Trust Ltd.

He testified that on the same day, there was an outflow of N105.7 million and N35 million to Capital Field Investment, as well as an inflow of N132 million from another company, Samchase Ltd.

The witness told the court that on February 11, 2015, there was an inflow of N200 million from de privateer, while on May 13, 2016, there was an inflow of N47 million from the same de Privateer.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel, Messrs Ola Olanipekun (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo (SAN), the witness told the court that he was not aware of any record of the transaction involving Fayose, adding that he could not see the name of Fayose or Spotless Ltd from exhibit F4

He confirmed that any banking procedure or transaction whether payment or deposit, must be backed by the document.

When asked whether the bank considered any of the transactions in exhibit F4 to be illegal or suspicious, the witness replied that he was not in a position to speak for the bank.

He, however, said that the bank complied with the instructions of its customers, adding that any suspicious transaction will not be treated by the bank.

The trial will continue tomorrow, being October 20, 2020.

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