The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Monday secured the conviction and sentencing of two top officials of Bank PHB, now Keystone Bank, Anayo Nwosu and Olajide Oshodi, as well as Ashok Israni, an Indian businessman, to five years imprisonment each for N855 million fraud before Justice Kudirat Jose of the State High Court, Igbosere, Lagos State.
Also jailed are NULEC Industries Limited belonging to Israni and Keystone Bank Limited.
The convicts alongside one Sunny Obazee were re-arraigned on October 4, 2016 on an amended 15-count charge bordering on conspiracy and obtaining by false pretence to the tune of N855 million.
One of the counts reads: “That you, Anayo Nwosu, Ashok Israni, Olajide Oshodi, Sunny Obazee, Bank PHB Plc/Keystone Bank Ltd and NULEC Industries Limited, between 14 July and 31st July, 2008, in Lagos within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did fraudulently convert to your use the sum of N285, 000, 000.00 (Two Hundred and Eighty-Five Million Naira) being the property of Dozzy Oil and Gas Ltd, when you credited the account of NULEC with the said sum to defray its debt owed to Bank PHB Plc as against paying the sum into the Private Placement Account of NULEC, which sum was to be used as payment for the purchase of shares of NULEC Industries Limited under a Private Placement.”
Another count reads: “That you, Anayo Nwosu, Ashok Israni, Olajide Oshodi, Sunny Obazee, Bank PHB Plc/Keystone Bank Ltd and NULEC Industries Limited, sometime in 2008 within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, with intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N855, 000, 000.00 (Eight Hundred and Fifty-Five Million Naira) from Dozzy Oil and Gas Ltd, on the false pretence that NULEC Industries Limited was in active profit making manufacturing and trading activities, thereby purporting same to be payment for the purchase of shares of the said NULEC Industries Limited under a Private Placement.”
The defendants, however, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against by them by the EFCC, thereby leading to their full trial.
During the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), presented witnesses and tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence by the court.
Delivering her judgment, Justice Jose discharged and acquitted the fourth defendant, Obazee.
The Judge, however, convicted and sentenced the first, second and third defendants to five years imprisonment each on counts 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10 and 13 of stealing.
The companies were also ordered to pay a fine of N20 million to the Federal Government on counts 1, 10 and 13.
The Judge also ordered the convicts to restitute the sum of N395 million to the victim of the fraud.