Ex-Bank PHB MD, Atuche’s trial starts 3 years after

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BY ABDULWAHAB ABDULAH

Lagos — The former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Mr. Francis Atuche was re-arraigned on a 45 count charge of fraud yesterday before a Federal High Court.

The fresh arraignment was sequel to the transfer of the trial judge, Justice Fatimat Nyanko formally handling the matter at the Federal High Court.

Atuche and an ex-director of the bank, Charles Ojo, have been before the court since 2009.

Also Justice Akinjide Ajakaiye who was previously handling the case was equally transferred out of the Lagos division few months after he started the case. He had since retired from service.

They are accused of recklessly granting loans, without adequate securities to companies in which they had interest. The duo was also alleged to have falsified the bank’s records.

Atuche was also accused of exceeding his loan approval limit. All transactions are said to involve over N125billion.

Atuche and Ojo are also accused of money laundering. They pleaded not guilty to the charge yesterday.
Upon their arraignment, lead prosecution lawyer, Kemi Pinhero, SAN, asked that a date be fixed for trial.

Defence lawyers, Abubakar Shamsudeen and Olumide Adefila did not object to the fixing of a date for trial.

They prayed the court to allow their clients remain on the bail granted them in 2009 by Justice Ajakaiye, which Justice Nyako adopted.

Ruling, Justice Ofili-Ajumogobia ordered them to file fresh bail applications within seven days. She fixed January 16 next year for the hearing of the bail applications and possible commencement of trial.

The judge allowed them to remain on the earlier bail pending the determination of their new applications.

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