Former Managing Director of Bank PHB (now part of Keystone Bank) Francis Atuche has been sentenced to six years imprisonment by an Ikeja High court, for defrauding the bank the sum of N25.7 billion.
This was disclosed by Justice Lateefa Okunnu after a 12-hour judgment on Wednesday in a trial that has lasted 10 years.
Also sentenced was the former CFO of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, to four years’ imprisonment, citing that there was enough evidence beyond reasonable doubt that both men committed financial fraud.
The judge held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) proved beyond reasonable doubt that the convicts committed the fraud.
What Justice Okunnu said
“By stealing from the bank, they stole from innocent customers of the bank.
I hereby make an order of restitution against the first and third defendants to refund the sums stated in counts one to 11, 14 and 24.
The sums are to be paid to the relevant agencies that recovered the funds on behalf of the bank.
The first defendant is hereby sentenced to six years imprisonment on counts one to 11, 14 to 20, 23 and 24,” Okunnu said.
The third defendant is hereby sentenced to four years imprisonment on counts one to 11, 14 to 20, 23 and 24,” she held.
The judge, however, held that the sentences would run concurrently.
“It was a well-planned, well-executed scheme but the bubble burst when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervened,” she said.
She revealed that both men stole from the bank using well-recognised stockbrokers to transfer money belonging to the bank under the guise of loans and shares.
Meanwhile, Atuche begged the judge not to send him to jail, pleading for mercy he said, “All the time I was the MD of Bank PHB, I gave my all to the bank.
Never at any material time did it occur to me that I would set up a scheme to defraud the bank.
I plead for mercy, leniency, your kindness, and I plead that out of your kindness and generosity, you will not allow me to go to jail.”