Sequel to the allegedly deposited of fake currencies worth over N20 million, with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has ordered the seizure of funds and assets that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, traced to a banker, Mr Aleshe Ayodeji.
NigeriaCrime.com learned that Ayodeji, who was in charge of depositing funds in the CBN on behalf of a commercial bank, committed fraud in connivance with staff members of the apex bank.
In legal processes filed by EFCC before the court, the anti-graft agency alleged that the defendant, in an attempt to swindle the Federal Government, switched several boxes of N1000 notes, each box valued at N10 million, with papers and fake currencies.
EFCC told the court that working in cahoot with other bank officials, the defendant while pretending that the fake currencies were either defaced or mutilated Naira notes, received payments of correct values of the monies, which were usually paid into designated private accounts.
The EFCC, in an affidavit that was deposed to by one of its operatives, Mr. Shepherd Nanaoweikumo, told the court that the CBN has a practice that allows Deposit Money Bank (DMB) to return interleafed and mutilated monies to it for replacement.
It disclosed that such funds, when returned, would be examined by a staff of the apex bank.
According to the Commission, such deposits made by a Commercial Bank, after awaiting examination for two years, would be automatically destroyed through a briquetting exercise.
“That sometime in November 2014, the Central Bank of Nigeria reported a case of financial malfeasance and fraud against some of its staff at the Central Bank Ibadan Branch.
“Following the petition, EFCC assigned a Unit to conduct an inquiry to establish its veracity or otherwise.
“That the Unit commenced investigation into the case and preliminary investigation revealed that the Commercial Banks deposit money with the Central Bank of Nigeria and they also withdraw money from the CBN.
“That upon depositing the money with CBN, the account of the Commercial Bank is credited with the amount deposited.
“That there is a Unit at a Commercial Bank that is charged with the responsibility of taking such money to the CBN and making withdrawals from the CBN on behalf of their Bank.
“That there were several boxes of money from the First Bank of Nigeria deposited with the CBN Ibadan branch which was found to contain currency notes interleafed with either lower denominations or papers cut into the sizes of currency notes.
“That during the investigation, some of the staff of CBN who were in charge of receiving money from deposit money banks (Commercial Banks) such as First Bank of Nigeria were invited and investigated.
“That these CBN staffs were confronted with facts of the existence of boxes in their custody, containing currencies interleafed with either lower denominations or papers cut into the sizes of currency notes, they confessed that they deliberately accepted the interleafed currencies from the officials of the deposits money Banks including First Bank of Nigeria because the staff at the Commercial Banks were giving them money.
“That following the emergence of the fact stated in the preceding paragraph, some of our team members travelled to Ibadan to identify the individual staff of the Commercial Banks that were in charge of taking money to the CBN Ibadan branch at the material time.
“That upon our visit to First Bank Ibadan branch, the Head of the Branch identified Aleshe Ayodeji as one of the persons who were assigned with the responsibility of taking money to CBN Ibadan branch at the material time.
“That as at the time Mr Aleshe Ayodeji was arrested In Ibadan, the EFCC had no operational branch office in Ibadan and he was accordingly taken to a police station close to where he was arrested.
“I did not know Mr Aleshe Ayodeji before and until he was identified by his superior as one of the people in charge of taking money to CBN.
“Mr. Aleshe Ayodeji and his colleagues were taken to Abuja in furtherance of our investigation to confront them with further facts gathered by some of our team members.
“That during the investigation, Mr Aleshe made extra-judicial statement admitting to being involved in the fraudulent activities”.
EFCC told the court that its investigation revealed that CBN officials involved in the fraud often deliberately allowed boxes of the fake currencies to stay more than two years without inspection, “in a calculated effort and fraudulent attempt to avoid examination”.
“That in a calculated attempt by Mr. Aleshe Ayodeji and his colleagues to swindle the CBN, clean notes were accepted as mutilated notes and also several boxes of N1000 notes each with a supposed value of N0,000.000.00 were mixed with the papers, N5 notes, N10 notes, fake currencies and at times N100 notes while the correct value of N1,000,000.00 was given the DMBs in respect of each of the boxes.
“That Mr. Aleshe Ayodeji knowingly conspired with the other colleagues by depositing interleafed currencies at the Central Bank of Nigeria.
“That Mr Aleshe Ayodeji invested the proceeds he realized from the fraudulent practices into mining and quarry business and buying and selling of stones, under the business name and style of Atitek Nigeria Limited.
“That Mr Aleshe Ayodeji also invested the proceeds into indomie business and contract with UAC foods.
“That Mr Aleshe Ayodeji is the Managing Director of Atitek Nigeria Limited, a signatory of the company account with Guaranty Trust Bank Plc with account No 0160838784 where part of the proceeds of the fraudulent activities of Mr Aleshe Ayodeji were deposited as fixed deposit.
“That Mr Aleshe Ayodeji made a statement admitting that during working with First bank, he made over N20,000,000.00 Million Naira from the ‘MINT BUSINESS’ and agreed to surrender all property acquired through the fraudulent activity to the Federal Government of Nigeria”.
EFCC told the court that though it earlier seized some assets belonging to the defendant based on the order of a High Court in Oyo state, it however omitted a bank account that was operated by his company.
It maintained that funds in the account are proceeds of crime, hence the need to file an application to seize it.
Meanwhile, following an ex-parte application that was moved by EFCC lawyer, Mr. O. Adeola, trial Justice Inyang Ekwo granted an order for interim forfeiture of funds in the defendant’s account.
The court ordered the anti-graft agency to publish the order within seven days, even as he adjourned the matter till January 16 for the report.