Money Laundering: Babalakin risks five years jail

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By Soni Daniel, Regional Editor, North

LAGOS — Chief Executive Officer of Bi-Courtney Limited, Dr. Wale Babalakin, may spend up to five years in prison, if convicted over money laundering charges being pressed against him by the Federal Government.

This emerged, as the details of the 27-count charge, which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, filed at the Lagos High Court against the businessman and four others, were unfolded, yesterday.

Bi-Courtney top shot, Dr. Wale Babalakin

A copy of the Information Sheet obtained by Vanguard last night indicated that Babalakin, was being charged along Bi-Courtney Limited, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Renix Nigeria Limited and one Alex Okoh for laundering over N1. 3 billion ofDeltaState funds and conferring corrupt benefits on the former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori.

The offence, according to the charge sheet, is punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap.C17, laws ofLagosState, 2003, which carries a minimum prison term of five years.

Specifically,  Babalakin and the other persons  were alleged to have assisted Ibori to transfer the various sums of money between May and December, 2006 through third parties to Erin Aviation inMauritiusfor the purchase of a Challenger Aircraft for the former governor.

According to the document, the accused had at various times pretended to be doing some spurious contracts for the Delta State Government and were duly paid various sums of money within the period which they promptly remitted the sums to Erin Aviation in Mauritius for the purpose of purchasing the aircraft for the politician.

The EFCC document showed that the least amount collected by the alleged from the state government for purported contract execution, which they immediately transferred to the Mauritius company was N35 million on May 26, 2006 while the highest collected by them from the same government was N260 million on June 2, 2006.

Babalakin and the others were also being charged under Section 17 (a) of the EFCC Act, 2004, which punishes offenders of retention of proceeds of a criminal conduct and Section 98A (1) (a) of the Criminal Code Law Cap.C17,Laws of Lagos State, 2003.

At certain times during the period of the massive transfers allegedly effected by the them to theMauritiusaviation firm, they allegedly remitted $10.3 million between May 15 and December 2006 through Interactive Technologies Limited/TN Focus, Sopetrol Oil and Gas Limited, Casaka Nigeria Company Limited, GeoFluids Limited and Hyundai Heavy Industries Nigeria Co. Limited.

Some of the charges read: “That you, Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin, Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Renix Nigeria Ltd on or about 17 November  2006 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did retain the control of proceeds of financial crime to wit: the sum of $2,000,000.00 on behalf of James Onanefe Ibori  by transferring the said sum to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius through Hyundai Heavy Industries Nig Ltd and which sum you knew was as a result of criminal conduct by the said James Ibori.

“That you, Dr. Bolanle Olawale Babalakin, Alex Okoh, Stabilini Visioni Limited, Bi-Courtney Limited and Renix Nigeria Ltd on or about October 30, 2006 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did retain the control of proceeds of financial crime to wit: the sum of $500,000.00 on behalf of James Onanefe Ibori  by transferring the said sum to Erin Aviation account in Mauritius through Casaka  Nig Co. Ltd and which sum you knew was as a result of criminal conduct by the said James Ibori.

But the anti-graft agency slammed Alex Okoh and Renix Nigeria Ltd with a different charge for concealing the various sums of money which were transferred and used in buying the aircraft for Ibori.

One of the charges preferred against the two accused persons, reads: “That you, Alex Okoh and Renix Nigeria Ltd on or about September 21, 2006 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did by concealment, retain the control of the sum of N250 million which sum was the proceeds of an economic crime (funds illegally withdrawn from the account of Delta State Government) and which sum you knew was as a result of criminal conduct by the said James Ibori.”

“That you, Alex Okoh and Renix Nigeria Ltd on or about September 21, 2006 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court did by concealment, retain the control of the sum of N200 million which sum was the proceeds of an economic crime (funds illegally withdrawn from the account of Delta State Government) and which sum you knew was as a result of criminal conduct by the said James Ibori.

The case was filed on Wednesday by an EFCC lawyer, Mr. A.M. Yusuf on behalf of the agency and the Attorney General of the Federation. No date was fixed for the trial but a source in the anti-graft agency confirmed, last night, that Babalakin and the others might appear in court next week.

It was not, however, clear if Babalakin and the others had been served with the summons.

 

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