Judge’s Absence Stalls $17.5M Fraud Against Zenith Bank, 5 Others

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Hearing of the criminal charge against Zenith Bank Plc and five individuals, at the Federal High Court, Lagos, suffered a set back today, due to the absence of the trial judge.

Consequently, the matter has been adjourned till February 16, 2018.

Zenith Bank Plc alongside  Kayode Esho, Austin Udakpo, Kelechi Chukwueke, Ezeduka Chigozie and Ignatius Okeke, were charged before Justice Mohammed Idris  by the Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (FCIID) of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Alagbon Ikoyi-Lagos, on charges bordering on conspiracy,  altering, forgery, fraud and internet fraud.

The offences according to the Prosecutor, Mr. Oloruntaba O, are contrary to and punishable under sections 27(b) and (2); 13; 9, and 14(1) of the Cyber crimes Prohibition (Prevention etc) Act, 2005.

At the last hearing of the matter, prosecution star witness, who also doubled as the victim of the alleged fraud, Chukwudi Ignatius Egwim, had informed  the court, how Zenith Bank Plc, shunned several police invitations over alleged fraud.

The witness also told the court that it took  Zenith Bank over one year, before some officials of the bank could explained the role played by the Bank in the alleged crime.

“When I discovered the fraud, I reported to SFU, through a petition, when they start the investigation for one and half years, Zenith Bank failed to honour police  invitation.

“It took Zenith Bank Plc over one year before the bank responded to the police invitation”, the witness told the court.

Justice Mohammed Idris had adjourned the matter till today, for the witness to continue in his evidence.

Zenith Bank and other accused persons are being tried before the court by the SFU, on five counts charge bordering on conspiracy, altering, forgery, fraud and internet fraud.

The accused persons in one of the counts of the charge, were alleged to have between July 15 and 17, 2014, conspired among themselves to commit felonies by intercepting email address, forgery of email address, and computer related fraud.

The five individuals mentioned in the charge while working with Thasious International Company Limited, allegedly forged email address of one Chukwudi Egwim bearing Egwim Chukwudi with email address, and change it to Egwim Chukwudi (Dorothy Morgan).

The five defendants and Zenith Bank Plc were also alleged to have on July 24, 2014, falsely altered the beneficiary name of domiciled account number 30701545447, from the original name of Chukwudi Ignatius Egwim, to false name Paul Muokwe.

The police also alleged that Zenith Bank Plc and other defendants had between July 15 to 17, 2014, without authority changed the bank details of one Chukwudi Ignatius Egwim to Paul Mmakor, and his bank from TD Canada Trust to Citizen Bank, and the account number 6505610 to 401266444, which they intend to use to receive the sum of $17.500,000, at the deprivation of the real owner, Chukwudi Ignatius Egwim.

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