Court Sentences Former Bank PHB MD, Francis Atuche, To 12 Years For N25.7bn Fraud

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An Ikeja High Court has sentenced a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche to 12 years imprisonment and former Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Ugo Anyanwu to 10 years, for stealing and conspiracy to steal N27billion.

But Justice Lateefat Okunnu, before whom the defendants were tried, discharged and acquitted Mr Atuche’s wife Elizabeth.

In sentencing the men, the judge upheld the arguments of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Kemi Pinheiro, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC with the Fiat of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF).

Mr Pinheiro had opposed Mr Atuche’s contention that the stolen funds in dispute were loaned, not stolen.

The judge agreed with him.

She held that the money belonged to the bank and that it was capable of being stolen.

“The 1st Defendant confirmed the bank’s ownership of the money when he said the bank in lending money makes profit.

The alter egos and true directing mind of the companies knew nothing about the loans. The loans indeed were a hoax.

“The 1st and 3rd Defendants did not debunk the evidence of the prosecution that the loans were used to purchase shares. They rather contended that the monies granted as loan could be used for whatever purposes.”

Justice Okunnu also seems to have set a record today as she delivered the judgement sitting for more than 12 straight hours with only a twenty minutes break.

The court started sitting at 9.15 am to deliver judgement in the N25.7 billion fraud charge against Francis Atuche, and the other accused persons and finished delivering the judgement at about half last nine pm

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