Former Finbank MD Okey Nwosu, three others jailed for 11bn fraud

The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Tuesday convicted and sentenced former managing director of Finbank Pl, Okey Nwosu to three years imprisonment over N10.9 billion fraud.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had arraigned Mr Nwosu alongside Dayo Famuroti, Agnes Ebubedike and Danjuma Ocholi on a 26-count amended charge bordering on stealing and illegal conversion to the tune of N10,934,704,402.

The defendants, who perpetrated the fraud while they were directors of the bank, pleaded not guilty to the charge preferred against them, thereby leading to their full trial.

In the course of the trial, the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Jacobs, called witnesses and also tendered several documents that were admitted in evidence against the defendants.

Delivering her judgment, Justice Lateefa Okunnu found the defendants guilty and sentenced the first and second defendants, Nwosu and Mr Famuroti, to three years imprisonment each.

The judge also sentenced the third defendant, Mr Ocholi, to 12 months imprisonment and slammed a six- month community service on the fourth defendant, Ms Ebubedike.

The case had suffered a setback as the defendants challenged the jurisdiction of the trial court up to the Supreme Court.

While the court maintained its jurisdiction to try the defendants, Nwosu approached the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal which in November 2013 struck out the charge against the banker.

The appellate court ruled that the Lagos High Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain the charges because they emanated from capital market transactions, which should be handled by the Federal High Court.

Following the Appeal Court ruling, Famoroti, Ocholi and Ebubedike approached the Lagos High Court to dismiss the charges preferred against them.

But Mr Jacobs had prayed the court to adjourn the matter indefinitely pending the determination of its appeal at the Supreme Court.

Justice Okunnu upheld the Jacobs’ prayers and adjourned the matter sine die to allow the Supreme Court rule on the matter.

The Supreme Court, in its judgment, upheld EFCC’s appeal. In a unanimous judgment, a seven-member panel of justices of the apex court faulted the argument of the Court of Appeal that the decision by the EFCC to charge Nwosu and the other directors for stealing before the Lagos High Court, while it maintained a charge of money laundering against them, would amount to double jeopardy. The Supreme Court directed Nwosu and co-defendants to submit themselves for trial before the Lagos High Court.

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