A Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday convicted and sentenced an employee of First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, Andrea Chizoba Okpalangwu to seven years imprisonment for defrauding the bank of N146 million.
The trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba also ordered the convicted banker to pay the bank the sum of N146, 633 as a restitution for her crimes.
Justice Buba made the orders, while delivering judgment on a four count-criminal charge of conspiracy, forgery and obtaining under false pretence brought against the convict by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigerian Police.
The police, through its lawyer, Chukwu Agwu, a Superintendent of Police, had re-arraigned the banker on February 2, 2018, on the amended four count-charge.
Agwu had maintained that the offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 1 and 8 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act. 2006 and Section 2(c) of the Miscellanea: Offences Act. 2004.
The convict had pleaded not guilty to the charge, when she was arraigned.
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During the trial, Agwu had informed the court that the convict while working with FCMB Plc, conspired with a company, Bizmate Nigeria Limited and its staff to defraud her employer of the sum of N146, 633 million.
The police prosecutor had also claimed that Bizmate Nigeria Limited and the convicted banker conspired to commit the act with: Zulikah Zoni Anwail, Olakunle Wakajaiye, Blessing Gbajide, Alicia Onwukah, Ose Ekiosola. Uche Okolie, Olusegun Oladlmeji, who were all said to be at large.
He further informed the court that Okpalangwu conspired with Bizmate Nigeria Limited and its staff to forged an Automated Teller Machine (ATM) card of Guaranty Trust bank, Identity cards, passports, cheque books, which she used to opened a bank account.
He also alleged that the account with number: 0779808013 which was open at the Victoria Island, branch of FCMB, for Bizmate Nigeria Limited, was used to fraudulently obtained a credit facility valued at N146, 633 million.
Agwu told the Court that sometime on November 14 and 15, 2012, FCMB Plc received a message from a Bank concerning two suspicious transfers of N7 million and N8 million respectively.
He stated that the two transfers were made into Bizmate Nigeria Limited account with the bank from the convict’s FCMB’s account.
Following the discovery, FCMB conducted an internal investigation into the two suspicious fund transfers.
The bank found out that a total sum of N50 million transferred by Revue World Resources Limited was received by Revue World Resources Ltd from 45 Staff Salary Plus Loan Accounts of the supposed staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited.
The prosecutor further told the court that the said 45 Staff of Bizmate Company were availed “Staff Salary Plus Loan” by FCMB on the recommendation of the convict, Andrea Chizoba Okpalangwu, who introduced Bizmate Nigeria Limited and Revue World Resources Limited to FCMB as a prelude to the availment of the loan.
Adding that the convict was the account officer of Bizmate Nigeria Limited, the 45 Staff of Blzmate Company and Revue World Resources Limited.
Agwu further told the court that investigation revealed that the convict carried out categorization of Bizmate Nigeria Limited, Revue World Resources Limited and the 45 Staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited.
The categorization documents brought in by the convict supposedly from Blzmate Company show that the company has a turnover of N900 million in the year 2010 and N1.2 billion in 2011, this he said was the sole reason FCMB granted staff salary plus loan of N146, 533 million to the 45 Staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited.
The prosecutor told the court that It was also discovered that all the 45 telephone numbers listed on the letter head of Bizmate were not reachable when dialed.
He told the court that investigation also revealed that none of 45 staff were present at Adetokunbo Ademola Street and Abesan LCHE, Ipaja Lagos, branches of the bank where the accounts are domiciled.
And that a check at No. 14, Grace Andrew’s Drive, Lekki, Lagos, supposed Branch office of Bizmate Nigeria Limited showed that nobody was there for any business.
He stated further that It was revealed during investigation that nearly all account opening documents were presented to FCMB by the defendant.
And that it was also discovered that the cheque book for the 45 staff account were collected by the convict and a marketer of the bank, Hadizatu Sule and handed over to a purported employee of Bizmate Nigeria Limited, one Wakajaiye.
Agwu therefore urged the court to convict and sentence the banker as charged.
However, the convict, denied the allegations.
Delivering judgment on the charge, Justice Buba held that the prosecution have been able to proved all the ingredients of the charges against the convict.
Justice Buba consequently convicted the banker and sentenced her to seven years imprisonment on each of the four counts.
The judge also held that the jail terms are to run concurrently.