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Alleged money laundering: Ex-Skye Bank Chairman, MD get N100m bail each

The Federal High Court, Abuja on Thursday, admitted a former Chairman of the Defunct Skye Bank, (now Polaris Bank) Tunde Ayeni and its former Managing Director, Timothy Oguntayo to bail in the sum of N100 million each.

The trial judge, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, ordered that the defendants must produce one surety each in like sum, following their arraignment on a 10-count charge bordering on alleged money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC).

The defendants who were arraigned alongside two companies, Control Dredging and Royaltex Paramount Ventures Ltd pleaded not guilty to all counts.

The EFCC alleged that the defendants, in 2014 while being Chairman and MD of Skye Bank respectively, conspired to commit money laundering by transferring N3 billion from Skye Bank’s suspense account to the account of Control Dredges domiciled with FCMB.

The offence, according to the anti-graft agency contravened Section 18(a) of the Money Laundering Act as amended and punishable under Section 15(2)(b) of the same act.

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The defendants were also alleged to have conspired to commit an offence to transfer N1.1 billion from the suspense account of the bank to the account of Royaltex Paramount Ventures domiciled with Skye Bank.

Following their not guilty plea, the prosecuting counsel Mr. Abba Mohammed asked the court for a date for trial.

Mohammed prayed the court to deny the defendants bail on the grounds that two personal staff of the first defendant were part of those listed as witnesses.

He submitted that the first defendant might influence the said witnesses.

The prosecutor further argued that officials of the commission had to visit the house of the second defendant to bring him to their office.

He added that on another occasion, the second defendant did not respond to calls from officials of the commission.

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Earlier, counsel to the defendants, Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN) and E.O Akoni (SAN) respectively applied for bail for their clients.

The counsel argued that the charges their clients were facing were bailable charges and that the defendants had earlier been admitted to bail by another judge on similar charges.

They added that the said bail conditions had since been perfected and that the defendants had not jumped bail.

As part of the current bail conditions, the court ordered that the surety of each of the defendants must show evidence of tax payment from 2016 to 2018.

The surety, the court added, must have landed property in Abuja and submit the documents of such land to the court for verification.

Each surety is to also submit two passport photographs to the court.

The defendants were given seven days within which to perfect their bail condition and the court added that should any of them jump bail, their counsel would be held responsible.

The judge in her ruling held that the reasons adduced by the prosecution in opposing the bail application were not enough for her to refuse bail.

She admitted them to bail and adjourned the matter until May 27 and 28 for trial.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that Ayeni and Oguntayo were arraigned in 2018 at the Federal High Court, Abuja on similar charges and got bail of N50 million each.

They were also arraigned at an FCT High Court sitting in Apo on Wednesday in another matter and were admitted to bail in the sum of N500 million each and two sureties in like sum. (NAN)