Justice Lateefat Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court, Lagos has ordered the forfeiture and freezing of assets and funds belonging to the convicted former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche, worth over of N19.2 billion allegedly kept in 24 banks.
Justice Okunnu made the order sequel to an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) dated August 17 in Charge No. ID/1549/2011 between the Federal Government on the one hand and Atuche and Ugo Anyanwu as first and defendants.
Anyanwu, a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, is currently serving a six-year jail term following his conviction and sentencing on June 16 for a N25. 7 billion fraud alongside Atuche.
Justice Okunnu, had in her judgement, while sentencing the duo, ordered that they should make a restitution of the N25.7 billion to the Federal Government to replace the funds stolen from the public to bail out the bank.
The judge granted the agency’s 12 prayers pursuant to sections 6(d), 20, 24, 26(1), 30 and 34(1) of the EFCC Act and sections 290, 294 and 297 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law 2015, filed by prosecution counsel led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Kemi Pinheiro.
The judge held that: “An order is made restraining the 1st Defendant (Atuche) whether by himself, or acting through the persons or entities listed or such other persons including but not limited to his family members or agents, from removing, alienating, disposing of, dealing with or diminishing the value of assets, proceeds of economic and financial crimes or otherwise in the name of the 1st Defendant…”
According to her, the assets or funds included those held indirectly by or for Atuche’s benefit, whether solely or jointly held, that is located in Nigeria or worldwide.
In another order, she restrained the banks from honouring any such instruction from Atuche and his privies.