Advance Fees Fraud (419)
The CBN Litigations
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Chief Emmanuel Nwude Odinigwe,
Amaka Anejemba & Ors
In the year 2001, newspapers and magazines in Nigeria were agog with publications about an alleged financial scam of US$181.6 million. The scam was said to have involved a group of Nigerians and a Brazilian, Mr. Nelson Sakaguchi, a Director in Banco Noroeste Brazil.
The Central Bank of Nigeria, through the Inter-Departmental Committee on Money Laundering, Advance Fee Fraud and Other Financial Crimes, became interested in the matter when it was established that the Governor of the Bank and the Deputy were impersonated. Moreover, a principal accused person, (Chief Odinigwe) was a Director in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc and Nigeria being a signatory to the “Money Laundering and Financial Crimes Pact” found it compelling to establish the authenticity of the claims in the publications.
Following this development, the Inter-Departmental Committee on Money Laundering, Advance Fee Fraud and Other Financial Crimes sought and obtained the approval of the Deputy Governor (Financial Sector Surveillance) to constitute an inter-departmental committee comprising the then Bank Examination and Banking Supervision Departments to carry out an indept investigation into the alleged scam.
The Committee which began its investigation on January 28, 2002 had the following terms of reference:-
- Determine Chief Odinigwe’s shareholdings in Union Bank Plc and establish the source/sources of funding.
- Establish the source of funding of late Mr. Anajemba’s shareholding in First Homes, Lagos (a claimed subsidiary of First Bank Plc in the said publications).
- Determine the payments reportedly made by Mr. Sakaguchi to some mentioned beneficiaries through designated accounts in some specified banks in Nigeria.
- Establish the true ownership of the various companies ascribed to Chief
Odinigwe and late Mr. Anajemba at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The
Committee, at the end of its investigation established that:-
- As against the belief by UBN PLC that Chief Odinigwe held 4,101,000 shares in the bank using his name and through several other proxies and related interests, Chief Odinigwe actually acquired 65,119,000 shares in Union Bank Plc in 1998 at a price of N9.50 per share. This number rose to 86,825,328 following the bonus shares declared by the Bank in 2001;
- First Bank Plc had no subsidiary outfit by the name of First Homes Limited.
The Committee during its investigation had worked in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The investigation report passed to the CBN Management was approved and Management forwarded it to the (EFCC) which eventually prosecuted the culprits.
The Accused persons were charged to the High Court of Lagos State after the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory declined jurisdiction on the matter following the objection of the Accused persons. A 57 counts charge was preferred against the accused persons and they were all found guilty and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment ranging from five to six years. In addition, their assets were forfeited to the Federal Government of Nigeria and the sums of money recovered from them were ordered to be returned to the owners. Management of the CBN also directed that administrative sanctions be imposed on the erring banks by the Director of Banking Supervision Department.