Monday, September 16, 2013

N27.7bn EFCC CASE against Atuche: Utomi testifies in court

A witness, in the on-going trial of the former Managing Director of
Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank),Francis Atuche, Professor Pat Utomi,
yesterday, told a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that the loans
granted by the former Managing Director of the Bank were ratified by
the bank's board of directors.
Atuche, his wife and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo
Anyanwu, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission, EFCC, for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion belonging to
Bank PHB.
While reading from the minutes of the Board of Directors' meeting of
Bank PHB on July 9,2008, Utomi, a former chairman of Bank PHB said the
loans were ratified during the meeting by the members.
He said the credit facilities were granted to Extra Oil Ltd., in the
tune of N3.9 billion; Tradjeck Ltd., N3.5 billion, Future View
Securities Ltd., N3.5 billion; Petosan Oil and Gas Ltd, N4 billion and
Falcon Securities, N8 billion.
Utomi, who was led in evidence by Atuche's counsel, Chief Anthony
Idigbe, said the ratification of the loans did not offend the code of
corporate governance for banks in Nigeria.
He said:"In the business of banking which involves risk, it is the
duty of the board to take decisions on the optimal risk that the bank
can be exposed to.
"We always ensured that illegality was not pursued, but we also
recognised that management needed to act and take risk on behalf of
the bank," he said
While being cross-examined by the EFCC counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro,
SAN, Utomi maintained the fact that ratification of loans was a
routine thing in all banks.
Earlier, the minutes of Bank PHB Board meeting, dated July 9,2008, was
tendered before the court by an employee of Keystone Bank, Mr. Seyi
The bank was subpoenaed by the court to present the documents and
other vital documents needed for the trial, which were in its custody.
Further hearing in the matter will continue today.

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