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EFCC arrests bankers who forged signatures to steal depositors’ funds

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The Uyo Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has uncovered a criminal syndicate of bankers that specialized in forging signatures of deceased bank customers and stealing from their accounts.

EFCC spokesman Tony Orilade in a statement said they also executed fraudulent financial transactions, including unauthorised debits of depositors’ funds.

The members of the criminal syndicate include Mbong Essien, Akwa Akwa, Precious John, Kenneth Udoetuk and Ubong Udom. They were arraigned before Justice Archibong Archibong on Monday, March 2, 2020, arraigned before Justice Archibong Archibong of the Akwa Ibom State High Court sitting in Uyo, on a 23-count charge bordering on conspiracy, forgery, obtaining by false pretence and criminal conversion of depositors’ funds to the tune of over N37 million.

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Orilade said the management of Fidelity Bank Plc, Abak Road branch in Uyo and 72 of the bank customers had in a petition dated December 9, 2019, alerted the commission of suspicious withdrawals from customers’ accounts, including that of a deceased customer.

An investigation by the EFCC, Orilade said, revealed that Mbong used his position as the Head, Operations and Transaction Service and Delivery, established a criminal syndicate that specialized in perpetrating the fraudulent transactions and deductions.

Further investigations also showed that without the authorization or knowledge of the management of the bank, the defendants managed a fictitious fixed deposit account with interest accruing to it.

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The EFCC spokesman said the offence is contrary to Section 392 (1) and punishable under Section 399 of the Criminal Code CAP 38 Vol. II Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria 1999.

The defendants, however, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges.

In view of their pleas, EFCC’s lawyer Nwandu K. Ukoha, prayed the court for a trial date and for the defendants to be remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service.

The matter was thereafter adjourned to June 1, 2, and 3, 2020, for hearing, while the defendants were remanded in the custody of the Nigerian Correctional Service, pending the hearing of their bail applications.


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