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Sterling Bank CEO, Abubakar Suleiman Entangled in N1.79bn Fraud

 

Sterling Bank is currently entangled in a N1.79 billion fraud scandal that has placed its MD/CEO, Abubakar Suleiman on the wrong side of the law.

The scam which is still under investigation, has affected the financial standing of the bank. As a result, one bank official and a businessman are standing trial in court.

The case which is currently before an Ikeja High Court, Lagos, details how an official of the bank, Ifeanyichukwu Shallom Isituah and a businessman, Ighodaro Austin Osaretin allegedly stole the sum of N1,790,558,000.00 belonging to a customer of the bank.

In the charge sheet seen by our correspondent, an operative of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Adamu Mohammed, told the court that the agency received a petition with reference No: SB/IAG/12/EFCC/011 duly signed by the Head IT and Head Intelligence and Investigation on behalf of Sterling Bank.

Mohammed, who works with the Team C Cybercrime department of the EFCC, while testifying on oath, said that the petitioner alleged that a customer’s bank account was profiled via internet banking and the sum of N1,790,558,0 00.00 was transferred to various individuals and companies.

While led in evidence by the prosecutor, N. M. Anana, the witness testified that preliminary investigation by the bank revealed that the second defendant’s profile, Isituah, a female, was used to initiate the account on internet banking and more than 24 accounts got the same amount of money.

“Investigation letters were sent to FCMB, Zenith, First Bank, Fidelity Bank and Access Bank. Responses were received from the banks and the statement of accounts were analysed. The analysis revealed that most of the company’s accounts the money was transferred to were BDC (Bureau de Change).

“Some of them reside in Abuja, Kaduna and there was one address that we suspected to live in Lagos, Ndifreke Roberts. But all efforts to trace the address of Kaduna, Lagos and Abuja suspects did not yield any information to help the commission get them.

“On March 10, 2020, the DSS handed over the two defendants to the commission under the instruction of the AGF (attorney-general of the Federation) for further investigation. The two defendants’ statements were voluntarily taken under caution.

“The first defendant revealed that he has a company called Universal Agriculture Empowerment Initiative as an NGO which received the sum of N60 million as part of the transfer from that Sterling Bank customer’s account. He further stated that the money was received from one Osaretin (second defendant) and transferred to his account as a donation.

“That he introduced one of his friends who is the owner of Villavon International School who also received N100m from the said fraud.

“He further stated that he called a BDC in the name of Damo who owns Damoo Ten Ventures. Damo was invited to the commission and he volunteered a statement that the first defendant contacted him and he transferred N60 million to various accounts and further instructed the owner of the International School to transfer N95 million.

“The dollar equivalent was received in cash by the first defendant. The first defendant further stated that the money was used at IDP camps around the country. I cannot remember the specific location but he mentioned a place in Borno and Adamawa, the witness said.

However, during cross examination by the defence lawyer, A. Okenile, the EFCC operative said that Sterling Bank gave the commission the information that the second defendant profiled the account for the alleged fraud.

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