Court Jails FCMB Female Banker 7 Years Over N143.6m Fraud •Orders Restitution Of Stolen Funds
A female banker with First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, Andrea Chizoba Okpalangwu, has been convicted and sentenced to seven years imprisonment, over N146, 633 million fraud, by a Federal High Court, Lagos.
The court presided over by Justice Ibrahim Nasir Buba, also ordered Okpalangwu to restitute to her bank (FCMB), the sum of N146. 633 million she defrauded the bank.
Justice Buba convicted and sentenced the FCMB female banker and made the restitution order on Tuesday, while delivering judgment in a four count-criminal charge filed by the Police Special Fraud Unit (PSFU), Ikoyi, Lagos against the FCMB female banker.
SPFU through its lawyer, Mr. Chukwu Agwu, a Superintendent of Police, had dragged the convicted banker before the court on an amended four counts charge of conspiracy, forgery and obtained under false pretence, in a charge marked FHC/L/241c/13.
She was rearraigned on February 2, 2018, on the amended four count-charge.
The offences the prosecution said are contrary to and punishable under section 1 and 8 of the Advance Fee Freud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act. 2006 and section 2(c) at the Miscellanea: Offences Act. 2004, which she pleaded not guilty to.
To prove the charges against the convict during her trial, athe prosecutor, Mr. Agwu, informed the court that the convict while working with FCMB Plc, conspired with a company, Bizmate Nigeria Limited and its staff to defraud her bank of the sum of N146, 633 million.
Supol Agwu also told the court that the Bizmate Nigeria Limited the convicted banker was said to have conspired with to commit the act were: Zulikah Zoni Anwail, Olakunle Wakajaiye, Blessing Gbajide, Alicia Onwukah, Ose Ekiosola. Uche Okolie, Olusegun Oladlmeji, who were said to be at large.
He told the court that Okpalangwu conspired with Bizmate Nigeria Limited and its staff and forged bank Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards of Guaranty Trust bank, Identity cards, passports, cheque books, which she used to opened bank an account number: 0779808013 with the First City Monument Bank Plc, 3, Adetokumbo Ademola, Victoria Island, branch of FCMB, for Bizmate Nigeria Limited, which was used to fraudulently obtained credit facility valued N146, 633 million.
Agwu told the Court that sometime In November, 2012, FCMB Plc or FCMB Group received a message from a Bank concerning two suspicious transfers. Adding that on November 14 and 15 2012, of N7 million and N8 million respectively were transferred Into Bizmate Nigeria Limited with the Bank Plc from her FCMB account, FCMB conducted Internal Investigation Into the two suspicious fund transfers. And it was revealed that a total sum of N50 million transferred by Revue World Resources Limited have been received by Revue World Resources Ltd from 45 Staff Salary Plus loan accounts of the supposed staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited.
He told the court that the said 45 Staff of Bizmate Company were availed “Staff salary plus loan‘ by FCMB at the auspices of the defendant, Andrea Chizoba Okpalangwu, who introduced Bizmate Nigeria Limited and Revue World Resources Limited to the FCMB as a prelude to the availment of the loan. Adding that the defendant was the account officer of both Bizmate Nigeria Limited, the 45 Staff of Blzmate Company and Revue World Resources Limited.
Agwu further told the court that investigation showed that the defendant carried out categorization of Bizmate Nigeria Limited, Revue World Resources Limited and the 45 Staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited. And that the categorization documents brought in by the defendant supposedly from Blzmate Company show that the company has a turnover of N900 million in the year 2010 and N1.2 billion in 2011, this he said was the sole reason FCMB granted staff salary plus loan of N146, 533 million to 45 Staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited.
The prosecutor told the court that It was also discovered that all the 45 telephone numbers listed on the letter headed papers of the Bizmate company were not reachable, and that efforts to reach the said 45 staff of Bizmate Nigeria Limited, also as none of their said telephone numbers was going.
He told the court that the investigation also proved that none of 45 staff was even present at Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Block 56, Flat ii, Abesan LCHE, Ipaja Lagos, of the FCMB branch where the accounts domiciled. And that a check at No. 14, Grace Andrew’s Drive, Lekki, Lagos, supposed Branch office of Bizmate Nigeria Limited showed that nobody was there for any business.
He stated further that It was revealed during investigation that nearly all account opening documents were presented to the FCMB by the defendant. And that internal investigation revealed that the accused took over our staff Hadizatu Sule marketing calls to the Lekki branch of Bizmate Energy on a few occasion and the said Hadizatu Sule met only once with Mr. Idris Wakajaye, as a Bizmate Company staff in Lekki branch office.
And that it was also discovered that the cheque book for the 45 staff account were were collected by the defendant and Hadizatu Sule and handed over to Mr. Wakajaiye at the Lekki office.
Agwu further told the court that during the investigation that an ex-staff of FCMB that Mr. Ndubuisi Offia was about to rent the premises used by Bizmate Company Office at Lekki but the defendant pleaded with him (Ndubuisi Offia) that she would be using the place and that she would refund N1.4 million that Mr. Ndubuisi Offia had paid for the premises for him the refund was made by the defendant into Ndubuisi‘s account.
He therefore urged the court to convict and sentence the banker as charged.
However, the convict, who only defended the charges against her, denied all the allegations.
Delivering judgment on the charge,Justice Buba held that the prosecution have been able to prove all the ingredients of the charges against the defendant.
Justice Buba consequently convicted the banker and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment on each of the counts.
Justice Buba while ordered that the jail terms are to run concurrently, also ordered the convict to restitute to FCMB the sum of N146, 633 million fraudulently obtained from the bank.
Charges against the convict reads: “that you Andrea Chizoba Okpalangwu ‘f ‘and others at large between the months of August and October, 2012 at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the honourable court being employees of First City Monument Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, did conspire with Zlikha Sonl Anwal ‘F, Segun Oladimeji ‘m’, Olakunle Wakajaiye ‘m’, Blessing Gbajide ‘f’, Alicia Onwukah, Ose Ekiosola, Uche OkoIie and other Blzmate Nigeria Limited and staffers now at large to commit felony to wit: advance fee fraud, fraudulent issuance of electronic instructions and neglect to prevent felony punishable under section 8 (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006.
“That you Andrea Chizoba Okpalangwu ‘F‘ at the same place, date and time and within the jurisdiction of this Honourable court with Zulikah Soni Anwal, ’F‘ Olakunle Wakejaiye, Blessing Gbajide, Alicia Onwukah, Ose Ekiosola, Uche Okolle, Olusegun Oladlmeji and others now at large, with the intent to defraud opened bank Account No: 0779808013 with the First City Monument Bank Plc, 3, Adetokumbo Ademola branch, Victoria Island, Lagos, and obtained credit facility valued N146, 633, 000.00 (One hundred and forty-six million, six hundred and thirty three thousand Naira only) by false pretence and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related offences Act. 2006”.