EFCC opens money laundering trial of ex-governor’s aide’s wife
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, on Wednesday, opened its case in the money laundering case it instituted against Mrs Beauty Apere at the Federal High Court Yenagoa.
The absence of EFCC’s star witness on Oct 20 had stalled the N200-million money laundering suit against Mr Embelakpo Apere, and his wife, Beauty, in separate cases before the court.
Embelakpo was an aide on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to former Gov. Seriake Dickson.
At the resumed trial, the prosecution witness, Mr Timothy Owoeye, an official of the EFCC, in his evidence, said that the Commission collaborated with several banks and regulatory agencies during its investigation.
Owoeye was led in evidence by the prosecution counsel Mustapha Iko.
He told the court that the Commission acted on a Suspicious Transactions Report (STR) from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to investigate the defendant.
He noted that the STR from the NFIU indicated that between April and Oct 2015, N73 million, $51,900 and £3,800 in cash were reportedly lodged in the defendant’s bank account at Guarantee Trust Bank, Yenagoa.
Owoeye also said that efforts to trace the source of the funds made the EFCC to query the registration status of Kare-X Fashions and Designs Nigeria Ltd, with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
He said that the company, which the defendant claimed to be her source for the funds, was not found in the database of the CAC.
The witness further said that the defendant later claimed that she had other sources of business supplying of granite and timber for construction which were also scrutinised.
The EFCC, however, said that the income from the defendant’s timber business could not be ascertained as most of the buildings where the timber was purportedly used had been roofed and occupied.
He tendered letters from several organisations in response to EFCC’s inquiry, documents from six commercial banks as evidence, but the court noted that the documents were not itemised for ease of reference.
The trial judge, Justice Isa Ndahen, adjourned the case until Nov. 4 for ruling on the admissibility of the documents tendered in evidence by the EFCC.
The EFCC had arraigned Apere and Beauty at the court on Oct. 8, for money laundering allegedly carried out in 2015 but defence counsel Andrew Arthur raised a motion of preliminary objection to Apere’s arraignment.
The defence argued that Apere had earlier been tried and discharged and the discharge amounted to an acquittal, but the prosecution countered that the discharge was based on technicalities and not on merit.
The judge adjourned until Dec 15 for ruling on the motion opposing the arraignment of Apere.