Akingbola pleaded not guilty as Ex intercontinental Bank Staff Testifies, Trial Continues In Court

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Thursday heard how loans running into billions of naira owed to defunct Intercontinental Bank Plc by some companies were written off while some enjoyed some waivers.

The information came to light while a witness of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Jimoh Abdurahim, testified in the trial of the former Managing Director of the bank, Dr Erastus Akingbola.

Akingbola is facing a 22-amended charge bordering on misleading appearance of active trading in the shares of Intercontinental Bank, granting of reckless credit facilities, conversion, and mismanagement of depositor’s funds.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Abdurahim, a former chief investigator of the defunct bank, who now works for Access Bank Plc, informed the court that some of the companies which benefitted from the privileges allegedly belonged to former Managing Director of Access Bank Plc, Aig Imokhude; his successor, Herbert Wigwe, and the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.

He gave the name of one of the companies as United Alliance Company Limited, with non-performing loans of N4.5 billion, N4.27 billion, and N10.97 billion.

He testified that he was aware of some other companies allegedly owned by Senator Saraki and his late father, which were also indebted to Intercontinental Bank.

The court also heard that the CBN-appointed MD of Intercontinental Bank, Lai Alabi, was also a former Managing Director of Songai Farms Limited, a company said to be established by the Senate President.

The witness mentioned companies such as Dice trade Nigeria Limited, which was said to be indebted to the defunct bank, in the sum of N1,892,313,792.14; Joy Petroleum Limited – N3.932 billion, Linkers Limited – N3,617,694,988.99; and Skye View Property, which loan of N200.8 billion was allegedly written off by Alabi.

While being cross-examined by counsel to Akingbola and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Wole Olanipekun, the witness claimed that he was aware that Intercontinental Bank has merged with Access Bank.

He added that before then, Intercontinental Bank was larger and bigger than Access Bank in asset and capital base.

Abdurahim also informed the court that as at the time Access Bank took over Intercontinental bank, he was aware it had branches and subsidiaries internationally, including Ghana and the United Kingdom.

He claimed that at that time, Imokhude and Wigwe were MD and Deputy MD respectively at the Acess Bank.

The witness, however, said he would not confirm the suggestion put to him by Mr Olanipekun that “some people at the top” made Alabi the MD of Intercontinental Bank for the purpose of writing off their loans in the bank.

He also said he was not aware that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) queried Alabi for writing off the loans.

After listening to the testimony, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun has fixed Friday for the continuation of trial.

In the 22 amended charges filed before the court, the prosecution had alleged that Akingbola, while he was MD and CEO of Intercontinental Bank between November 2007 and July 2008, was involved in reckless approval of credit facilities without adequate security for a number of firms.

The prosecution also claimed that for instance, Akingbola approved a credit facility of N8 billion each to Soo-Kok Holding Limited, Tofa General Enterprises, Cinca Nigeria Limited, Harmony Trust and Investment Limited, Stanzus Investment Limited.

The EFCC said the alleged illegal transactions were carried out between May 2008 and May 2009 in contravention of “accepted practice or Intercontinental Bank Plc’s regulations.”

The Commission maintained that Akingbola violated Section 15(1)(a)(i) of the Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act, Cap F2, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and was liable to be punished under Section 16(1)(a) of the same Act

Akingbola pleaded not guilty as Ex intercontinental Bank Staff Testifies, Trial Continues In Court