By Onozure Dania
Lagos — A witness, in the on-going trial of the former Managing Director of Bank PHB (now Keystone Bank),Francis Atuche, Professor Pat Utomi, yesterday, told a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that the loans granted by the former Managing Director of the Bank were ratified by the bank’s board of directors.
Atuche, his wife and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, are being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for allegedly stealing N25.7 billion belonging to Bank PHB.
While reading from the minutes of the Board of Directors’ meeting of Bank PHB on July 9,2008, Utomi, a former chairman of Bank PHB said the loans were ratified duri
ng the meeting by the members.
He said the credit facilities were granted to Extra Oil Ltd., in the tune of N3.9 billion; Tradjeck Ltd., N3.5 billion, Future View Securities Ltd., N3.5 billion; Petosan Oil and Gas Ltd, N4 billion and Falcon Securities, N8 billion.
Utomi, who was led in evidence by Atuche’s counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe, said the ratification of the loans did not offend the code of corporate governance for banks in Nigeria.
He said:”In the business of banking which involves risk, it is the duty of the board to take decisions on the optimal risk that the bank can be exposed to.
“We always ensured that illegality was not pursued, but we also recognised that management needed to act and take risk on behalf of the bank,” he said
While being cross-examined by the EFCC counsel, Mr. Kemi Pinheiro, SAN, Utomi maintained the fact that ratification of loans was a routine thing in all banks.
Earlier, the minutes of Bank PHB Board meeting, dated July 9,2008, was tendered before the court by an employee of Keystone Bank, Mr. Seyi Ogundipe.
The bank was subpoenaed by the court to present the documents and other vital documents needed for the trial, which were in its custody.
Further hearing in the matter will continue today.