N1.7 billion naira fraud rocks Abubakar Suleiman led Sterling Bank, ENigeria Newspaper reports.
Abubakar Suleiman led Sterling Bank Plc is currently embroiled in yet a N1.7 billion fraud scam.
The fraud is reported to have wreaked havoc on the lender’s finances, as well as landing one of the bank’s employees and a businessman in court.
The case, which is now being heard in the Ikeja High Court in Lagos, recounts how the bank’s staff, Ifeanyichukwu Shallom Isituah, and a businessman, Ighodaro Austin Osaretin, allegedly stole N1,790,558,000.00 from a customer, Wells Procurement Limited, with account number 0016798848.
According to the charge sheet obtained by our correspondent, an EFCC operative, Adamu Mohammed, informed the court that the agency received a petition on behalf of Sterling Bank with reference number SB/IAG/12/EFCC/011 properly signed by the Head IT and Head Intelligence and Investigation.
While testifying under oath, Mohammed, who works for the EFCC’s Team C Cybercrime department, stated that the petitioner claimed that a customer’s bank account was profiled using online banking and that the money of N1,790,558,0 00.00 was moved to various individuals and companies.
The witness said that the bank’s preliminary inquiry found that the second defendant’s profile, Isituah, a female, was used to begin the account on internet banking, and that more than 24 accounts received the same amount of money, as led in evidence by the prosecutor, N. M. Anana.
FCMB, Zenith, First Bank, Fidelity Bank, and Access Bank all received investigation letters. The banks’ responses were received, and the bank statements were examined. The majority of the company’s accounts to which the money was sent were BDC accounts, according to the investigation (Bureau de Change).
“Some of them resided in Abuja, Kaduna, and there was one address in Lagos, Ndifreke Roberts, that we suspected was theirs. However, all efforts to track down the addresses of suspects in Kaduna, Lagos, and Abuja yielded no information that could assist the commission in locating them.
Under the direction of the AGF (attorney-general of the Federation), the DSS handed over the two defendants to the commission on March 10, 2020, for further investigation. The statements of the two defendants were freely taken under oath.
“The first defendant disclosed that he owns a corporation named Universal Agriculture Empowerment Initiative, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that got N60 million as part of the Sterling Bank customer’s account transfer. He went on to say that the money was received as a donation from one Osaretin (second defendant) and sent to his account. That he introduced one of his pals, the proprietor of Villavon International School, who collected N100 million from the alleged scheme.
“He also claimed to have called a BDC in Damo’s name, who owns Damoo Ten Ventures. Damo was asked to testify before the committee, and he stated that the first defendant phoned him and told him to transfer N60 million to several accounts, as well as N95 million to the proprietor of the International School.
“The first defendant received the monetary equivalent in cash. The money was also spent at IDP camps around the country, according to the first defendant. I don’t recall the exact location, but he stated Borno and Adamawa, according to the witness.
During cross examination by defense lawyer A. Okenile, the EFCC operative said that Sterling Bank informed the commission that the second defendant profiled the account for the alleged fraud.
“The offence was committed at Sterling Bank and it was reported,” Mohammed replied when asked what ties the second defendant to the suspected fraud.
The offense occurred on a public holiday, and the bank was made aware of it on December 28. The customer in question has never had his or her accounts profiled for internet banking. As a result, we needed to figure out how it was transmitted, which was via internet banking.
“The bank stated that the account did not have internet banking access, and that it was done by a staff member, who used the second defendant’s profile to link the account to internet banking. Money cannot be transferred from that account without that profiling. She evaded the bank’s attempts to contact her. She had vanished without a trace. Not until the Department of State Services (DSS) tracked her down, arrested her, and delivered her to the commission.”
The case was further postponed to October 19 to allow for the continuation of the trial.
Recall that three bank employees were recently arrested by the EFCC’s Lagos zonal office on suspicion of conspiring, stealing, forging, and collecting money under false pretenses (OFP).
Employees of Sterling Bank, Kagha Emmanuel Uchenna, Okoro Chinasom Davidson, and Egbogu Emmanuel Obiora, reportedly plotted and robbed a client to the tune of N51,978,883.37.
After forging the customer’s signature and National Identification Management (NIM) number slip, the trio activated his mobile banking application and fraudulently took the money; the EFCC’s investigation exposed them.
The suspects, who were arrested on July 7 at the bank’s Nsukka branch in Enugu, have subsequently given statements and the anti-graft agency has charged them in court.
As of press time, Ibidapo Martins, the bank’s chief marketing officer, had not responded to THE WITNESS’ questions.
According to ENigeria Newspaper findings, Sterling Bank, which is overseen by Abubakar Suleiman, has become known for hosting a slew of fraudulent activities.
Customers are concerned about the safety of their savings as a result of the frequent operations of dishonest employees.