Ladoja in fresh trouble over alleged N4.7bn fraud

… as Oyo Director testifies against him in court

A Director in the Oyo State Civil Service, Mr. Yinka Fatoki, on Tuesday testified for the prosecution in the ongoing trial of N4.7bn money laundering charge against a former governor of Oyo State, Rasheed Ladoja.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is prosecuting Ladoja and a former Commissioner for Finance, Waheed Akanbi.

Ladoja and Akanbi had, on December 14, 2016, pleaded not guilty to an eight-count charge bordering on money laundering before Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court, Lagos, and were granted bails.

The EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Oluwafemi Olabisi, was present in court; while Mr. Bolaji Onilenla and Mr. Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika represented Ladoja and Akanbi respectively.

At the resumed trial on Tuesday, the prosecution witness, Fatoki, told the court he was the Executive Secretary of the Bureau of Investment and Public Private Partnership in Oyo State.

Olabisi: Where were you in 2007?

Witness: As at 2007, I was an acting Director of Investment Promotion in the Ministry of Commerce, Oyo State; and as at that time, the desk officer in charge of state government investment holdings of public quoted securities.

Olabisi: Do you know Fountain Securities Ltd ?

Witness: Fountain Securities Ltd was the appointed portfolio manager for the sale of the Oyo State Government shares in 2007.

We gave a mandate for them to sell the shares, there was no pricing on the mandate, but that they should sell in line with best practices and within a time frame.

When Fountain Securities reported that the shares were sold at a discounted rate, Oyo State Government enlisted GTI Capital Ltd to investigate.

A petition was written by the state executive council to EFCC upon receipt of the investigation report, I was also named in the petition.

During cross-examination, counsel to the first defendant, Mr. Bolaji Onilenla, asked the witness if he was aware of any meeting with the stock brokers to finalise the sale of the shares.

The witness told the court that he had no such knowledge of any meeting.

Onilenla: Are you aware that the state government had an investigation into the sale of the shares?

Witness: The report GTI Capital Ltd sent to the state government after their investigation confirmed that the sales of the shares were done in line with market rules and practices.

In his cross-examination, Olumide-Fusika asked: Did you receive any payment from Fountain Securities?

Witness: I received payment from Fountain Securities Ltd, but it was not payment for the sale of the shares but for the dividends collected on them.

Fatoki further told the court that he gave the money to the commissioner who further disbursed it.

Olumide-Fusika: How was the payment made?

Witness: Payment was made in tranches and not in lump sum.

At the close of cross-examination, Olabisi told the court that the prosecutions’ next witness resides in Ibadan, and that he would need a few days to produce him.

He urged the court to vacate Wednesday’s earlier set-down date and grant the prosecution a further date to produce other witnesses.

Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case until April 12 and 13 for continuation of trial.

The defendants are alleged to have conspired, siphoned and laundered N4.7bn from the coffers of Oyo State.

EFCC is also accusing the defendants of converting N1.9bn belonging to the state to personal use, using the account of a company — Heritage Apartments Ltd — to commit the crime.

It claimed that they retained the money sometime in 2007 in spite of their knowledge that it was proceeds from a criminal activity.

Ladoja was accused of removing 600,000 pounds sterling from the state coffers in 2007, which he allegedly sent to Bimpe Ladoja, his daughter, who was in London at the time.

In addition, the ex-governor was also accused of converting N42m belonging to the state to his personal use and subsequently used same to purchase an armoured Land Cruiser jeep.

Ladoja also allegedly converted N728m and another N77m at different times in 2007 to his personal use and transferred the money to Bistrum Investments to purchase a property in Ibadan on his behalf.

The offences contravened sections 14, 16, 17 (a) and 18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004.

(NAN)

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