Date Published: 04/20/11
N12 billion Scandal: EFCC to quiz Bank Chiefs
…Access, Intercontinental, Oceanic, GTBank, UBA Named
…Bank Managers Helped to Launder Stolen Funds
Access Bank’s MD, Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede
Some Chief Executives Officers (CEO’s) of some top banks in Nigeria are to be quizzed by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), over their alleged role in the multi billion dollar fraud at the pension scheme.
The frontline suspects in the scam are the former director at the pension office, Suleiman Shuaibu, and an assistant director, Phiana Chidi, who allegedly colluded with officials of banks to perpetrate the fraud.
Pointblanknews.com learnt some of the 32 suspects facing 134 charges of money laundering and theft, have given names of those bank officials who aided them to fleece over 141 pensioners of their cash.
It was gathered that discovery of N12 billion in three bank accounts belonging to the two suspects followed a lead that they awarded fictitious contracts while they worked together at the office of the Head of Service of the Federation (HOSF), after which they diverted the money.
Our source said: "After a verification exercise at the Pensions Board which uncovered that out of about 14, 000 pensioners, only 9, 000 were verifiable and some money was saved there from, the two directors decided to award contracts to fake companies, paid for the contracts and went behind to collect the money.
"The bank managers helped them to launder the money any time such huge deposits were allegedly made by Chidi and Shuaibu. The N12 billion was traced to three fake accounts which operatives discovered were owned by the suspects, now we have found these fuel stations and the housing estates" the source disclosed".
Pointblanknews.com learnt that the EFCC is keeping the names of the bank chiefs close to the chest to avoid possible abscondment abroad or high level lobbying. However, while it keeps close watch on some, it had already dispatched letters of invitation to two top bank chiefs.
It was learnt that some of those likely to be quizzed are the CEO of Intercontinental Bank, Mahmoud Alabi; United Bank of Africa’s (UBA), Phillip Oduoza; Tayo Adenokun of GT Bank;, and John Aboh of Oceanic Bank.
Others are Francis Atuche of Bank PHB; First Banks Steve Onasanya; and Access Bank’s Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede;
According to our source “this scam involved over N12 Billion diversion of pensioners’ funds by officials of the scheme…It was an interbank arrangement where top managers, working in a syndicate, laundered the money with the connivance of the government officials”
The highly placed sourced continued “No financial crime can take place without the involvement of banks, most of these top banks are involved, one way or another. “
It will be recalled that EFCC had recently revealed that it found about N12billion in various accounts traced allegedly to two top civil servants being investigated in the scam rocking the Pension scheme in the country.
While Suleiman Shuaibu is presently Director of Finance in the Ministry of Petroleum, Phiana Chidi who was his former deputy while he was at the pension office is now with the Ministry of Transport.
Chidi was the first to be arrested by the anti-graft commission in January this year when massive diversions from the pensions fund into private accounts were uncovered by investigations.
The multi-million naira filling stations named Riballe Petroleum were sealed off in Kogi state, a reliable source told our reporter, pointing out that the petroleum dispensing stations were discovered after EFCC operatives traced another N1.5 billion diverted from pension funds into their account.