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Former bankers Atuche, Anyanwu jailed over N25.7bn theft




A Lagos high court has sentenced a former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Francis Atuche to over six years in prison.

The court also sentenced the former Chief Financial Officer of the defunct bank Ugo Anyanwu to over four years in prison.

Atuche and Anyanwu were convicted for stealing the sum of N25.7 billion.

The former bankers were convicted on at least six out of the 27-count amended charges bordering on felony and stealing, which was filed against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The judgment

The judgment was delivered by Justice Lateefat Okunnu, who sentenced the accused persons after convicting them.

Handing down the prison terms, Okunnu stressed that there must be consequences for wrongdoing and that prison sentences were not just for punishment but also served as deterrent.

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Both men are to serve their jail terms on the multiple counts, consecutively, at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison, Lagos.

The convicts were directed by Justice Okunnu to also pay the sum of N25.7 billion back to the Nigerian government to replace the funds used to bail out the bank.

The case has lasted over 12 years

Atuche and Anyanwu were arraigned for “mismanaging depositors’ funds and abusing credit management rules” in 2009, according to a report.

The banker’s wife, Elizabeth Atuche, was also involved the case. In 2011, the couple were arraigned before Justice Okunnu for alleged forgery.

They were granted bail in 2013.

The Atuches in 2014 challenged their trial at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal, only to be stopped by the Supreme Court.

Atuche’s Wife cleared

Justice Okunnu had cleared Elizabeth Atuche of the charge of conspiracy and stealing.

Okunnu ruled that the EFCC failed to link her to the crime with facts and it was not proven that she was aware of the source of the money that came into her account.

Bank PHB now operating as Keystone Bank

Bank PHB (Platinum Habib Bank) currently operates as Keystone Bank Limited after it became defunct in August 5, 2011.

It was among the financial institutions that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) bailed out with about N600 billion.

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