Sunday, November 1, 2020

Nigeria’s anti-graft agency arraigns Oil firm over $1 billion money laundering offences

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Wednesday arraigned Malabu Oil and Gas Limited, a businessman, Aliyu Abubakar, and six other firms for money laundering offences regarding the controversial oil block, OPL 245 transactions.

About $1bn and N673m are involved in the 48 counts read to the defendants before Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.

Apart from Malabu Oil and Abubakar, others who were arraigned along with them were the businessman’s six firms.

The firms were A-Group Construction Company Limited, Rocky Top Resources Limited, Mega Tech Engineering Limited, Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, and Carlin International Nigeria Limited.

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The defendants separately pleaded not guilty to the sets of the counts in which their names were mentioned as defendants.

In one of the counts, the prosecution alleged that Malabu Oil and two of its directors said to be on the run – Seidougha Munamuna and a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Dauzia Etete, who is widely known as Dan Etete – “directly or indirectly converted” the sum of $401,540,000 paid from the Federal Government of Nigeria Escrow Account with JP Morgan Chase Bank in London into Malabu Oil’s account with First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

The prosecution also alleged that the same set of persons took control of the said sum of $401,540,000 in violation of Section 9(a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, an act punishable under Section 15(3) of the same law.

Abubakar who was named in 43 of the counts was also accused of failing to report in writing to the EFCC certain single-fund transactions involving the bank accounts of his separate companies between 2011 and 2014.

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Specifically, Abubakar and his Carlin International Nigeria Limited allegedly failed to report the lodgment of N300m in the firm’s account by a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke (SAN), in February 2012.

It was also alleged that the businessman and  A-Group Construction Company Limited failed to report the sum of N32.108m paid to Triax BDC in January 2014, and N38m paid to them by Falana Properties Limited in August 2015.

After the 48 counts were read, EFCC’s prosecuting counsel, Bala Sanga, said he would not oppose Abubakar’s bail application.

Abubakar’s lawyer, Chief Akin Olujinmi (SAN), urged Justice Ekwo to adopt the previous bail conditions adopted as was done in a similar case before the judge on June 17.

The other defendants were firms which did not require bail applications.

They were separately represented by Mr R. Atabo, and Olalekan Ojo (SAN).

The judge adjourned trial till September 7 to 11.

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