BEVERLY HILLS, March 01, (THEWILL) – In the thriving banking sector in Nigeria, Dr. Erastus Akingbola, a former Group Managing Director of the defunct Intercontinental Bank, now acquired by Access Bank is no push over. In fact, when it comes to issues of finance, Akingbola is widely vast and knowledgeable.
When he held sway at Intercontinental Bank, he lived like a king. His cars were vintage; he owned buildings in choice locations and travelled around the world. Those around him benefitted enormously from his deep pocket and heavy financial war chest. He was said to have doled out customers’ funds to friends like Santa claus. The cosmopolitan seasoned former banking czar enriched his cronies as he allegedly gave out loans without commensurate collateral. This and many more plunged the bank into crisis under his leadership before the Central Bank and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, waded in to salvage the situation. His misfortune started when the EFCC conducted a forensic audit on all funds transferred during his tenure as M.D. The result of the audit discovered lots of discrepancies and illegal shady deals allegedly carried out on Akingbola’s directive.
From the EFCC investigations, he was said to have allegedly bypassed banking protocols to transfer $11.8million and £8.54million offshore without recourse to the bank’s standard procedures. Investigation further had it that an alleged N179 billion fraud was committed by him.
The Ilesha Osun State-born banker was eventually swept off by turbulent waters as he was relieved of his job as M.D of the defunct bank in 2009. Ever since that moment, Akingbola has been facing litigations bordering on several counts of money laundering and misuse of office, among other financial-related offences that contravenes the Central Bank laws. In the process of the legal tussle with the EFCC, Akingbola’s millions of dollars tied in choice properties in Lagos and London were confiscated. He started running from pillar to post.
On Friday, 19th February, 2021, before Justice A.O. Faji of a Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos, Mr Aro, who testified as fourth witness and works with Access Bank Plc, as Head, Global Compliance Advisory, told the court that he was part of an audit team that investigated a number of suspicious foreign transactions including the ones involving the $11.8million and £8.54million. Access Bank acquired Intercontinental Bank when it became financially distressed.
To further compound his woes, another witness who then worked at Intercontinental Bank told the court that around November/December 2009, he was co-opted into a team set up in internal audit “to review and investigate some foreign transactions.”
According to him, “In the course of investigating the suspicious transactions, it was uncovered that on the March 11 2009, the sum of £8.54million was transferred from the bank’s Deutshe Bank Nostro account to a certain Messrs Fugler Solicitors on the instruction of Dr. Erastus Akingbola. The instruction was not signed and at that time, his domiciliary account with the bank had $19 and £10,000. The Visa Card account was also not funded at that time, so also the Naira account of Dr. Erastus Akingbola with the bank did not have the equivalent of £8.54million.”
He further told the court that the team of internal auditors found out that the bank’s Nostro account with Deutsche Bank was debited to the tune of $9.8million and a corresponding £7.1million was put in the bank’s GBP Deutsche Bank Nostro account.
He said: “Another $1.98million was observed taken from the same dollar Deutsche Bank Nostro account of the bank and a corresponding £1.4million put in the bank’s GBP Deutsche Bank Nostro account. The addition of the $9.8million and $1.98million will give you $11.8million while £7.1million and £1.44million will give £8.54million. Contrary to normal procedures for such transactions, there was no corresponding deduction of charges from Dr. Erastus Akingbola’s account before effecting the payments”.
With this and many more evidence against the septuagenarian, it seems he might not get out of his dilemma pretty soon. The EFCC is hell bent on sending him behind bars by pursuing judgment to the very end. They also want to seek an injunction for the final forfeiture of his choice properties. Sources averred that the case is taking its toll on his health as the former billionaire is not finding things easy.
“Dr. Erastus is not happy. Battling the EFCC for over 12 years is not a joke. He no longer attends events or public functions. After his unceremonious exit as M.D of the Bank, he has recoiled into his cocoon. This case is giving him sleepless nights and headache.
With the determination of the EFCC to secure a court conviction against him, we hope he meets grace,” a senior banker who worked with Akingbola at Intercontinental Bank said.
The case has been adjourned till March 1.