Tuesday, November 30, 2021

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Ex Bank PHB MD, Francis Atuche, sentenced to 6 years imprisonment for 25.7bn fraud

Francis Atuche a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank) has been sentenced to six years imprisonment for defrauding the bank of N25.7 billion.

In a marathon judgment Wednesday, Justice Lateefa Okunnu also sentenced Ugo Anyanwu, a former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the bank to four years’ imprisonment.

The judge held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convicts committed the fraud.

Okunnu, however, discharged Atuche’s wife Elizabeth, who was facing trial alongside the duo.

Elizabeth was acquitted of counts of conspiracy and stealing brought against her.

Atuche and the others had been standing trial in the past 10 years.

“The first defendant (Atuche) and the third defendant (Anyanwu) are found guilty of counts one to 11, 14 to 20, 23 and 24 of the charges contained in the information, and are convicted of conspiracy and stealing.

“On counts 12, 13, 21, 22 and 26, I pronounce the first to third defendants not guilty as the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“On counts 25 and 27, the second defendant (Elizabeth) is found not guilty,” Okunnu said.

Atuche and his spouse were accused of fraudulent conversion of money described as bank loans.

The EFCC said that the couple diverted funds belonging to the bank by buying shares for fictitious companies linked to them.

Anyanwu was accused of using his position as the bank’s CFO to aid Atuche in committing the crimes.

The anti-graft agency said that the trio stole more than N25.7 billion belonging to defunct Bank PHB (now KeyStone Bank) between November 2007 and April 2008, while Atuche was the chief executive officer.

Following a stress test conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria in 2009, Bank PHB was classified as distressed and Atuche removed as the Managing Director.

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