A Lagos High Court in Ikeja has frozen assets and funds worth N19.17 billion allegedly stolen and kept in 24 banks by a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche.
Justice Lateefat Okunnu made the order sequel to an August 17 application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a suit between the Federal Government and Atuche, as well as Ugo Anyanwu, the first and second defendants respectively.
The court had earlier convicted Atuche and Anyanwu for various offences including money laundering and thieft of the bank money.
Anyanwu, a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, is also serving time in jail following his conviction and sentencing to six years’ imprisonment on June 16, 2021 for fraud involving about N25.7 billion.
Justice Okunnu, while sentencing the duo, had ordered that they should make a restitution of the N25.7 billion to the Federal Government in order to replace the funds stolen from the public to bail out the bank.
The judge, therefore on Thursday, granted the anti-graft agency’s 12 prayers pursuant to sections 6(d), 20, 24, 26(1), 30, and 34(1) of the EFCC Act, as well sections 290, 294 and 297 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2015.
The application was filed by the EFCC prosecution team, led by Kemi Pinheiro.
Justice Okunnu held that, “An order is made restraining the first defendant, whether by himself, or acting through the persons or entities listed from dealing with the value of the assets and proceeds of economic and financial crimes or otherwise in the name of the first defendant.”
The judge further froze any bank account being run and operated by Atuche, personally or jointly, whether in his personal name or otherwise in any of the respondent banks to the tune of N19.17 billion.
“A mandatory order of injunction is made directing the named respondent’s banks to file within 48 hours of service of the order of this honourable court on them returns of the statements of account of the first defendant,” the judge added.
EFCC had said that 15 persons were used by Atuche to launder the funds.
They are Anthony Atuche, Emeka Atuche, Paul Okobi, Felix Oyiana, Moruf Adisa, Olatunji Abiodun, Daniel Enebeli, Aina Olugbenga, Augustine Nwabueze, Omonua Benedict, Oliver Nduaaron, Chris Ogbechie, Murat Bektaslar, Attah Olukemi, and Thomas Etuh.