N25.7bn fraud: Supreme Court confirms six-year jail term for Atuche ,ex-bank managing director

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Caption: •Imprisoned ex-bank CEO Francis Atuche

 

The Supreme Court has upheld the conviction and six-year jail term handed to former Managing Director of the now defunct Bank PHB, Francis Atuche by the Court of Appeal in Lagos in a judgment delivered on June 23.

In a unanimous judgment on Friday, a five-member panel of the apex court held that the appeal by Atuche was without merit.

The judgment was on the appeal marked: SC/CR/1223/2023 filed by Atuche.

In the lead judgment prepared by Justice Habeeb Abiru, but read by Justice Moore Adumein, the apex court held that the appellant failed to show why it should tamper with the concurrent findings of the two lower courts.

“Where the finding of a trial court on the demeanour of a witness is supported by oral and documentary evidence tendered at the trial, as in the present case, an appellate court has no business tampering with the decision of the trial court.

“This court has not been given any reason to tamper with the concurrent findings of the two lower courts in this appeal

“This appeal is totally lacking in merit. This appeal fails and it is hereby dismissed.

“The judgment of the Court of Appeal, Lagos division, delivered on the 23rd day of June 2022 in appeal number: CA/LA/CR/668/2021which, save for the adjustment of the judgment passed, upheld the judgment delivered by the High Court of Lagos State in charge number: ID/154c/2011 on the 16th day of June 2021 is hereby affirmed,” the Supreme Court said.

The Court of Appeal in Lagos had, in its June 23, 2022 judgment, affirmed Atuche’s conviction on a 27-charge in which he and two others were accused of engaging in about N25.7billion fraud.

The Court of Appeal however reduced the sentence of 12 years, earlier handed to him by the High Court of Lagos state sitting in Ikeja, to six years.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had prosecuted Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth and a former Chief Financial Officer of Bank PHB, Ugo Anyanwu before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the High Court of Lagos State.

Justice Okunnu, in a judgment on June 16, 2021 convicted Atuche and Anyanwu on 21 out of the 27-count amended charges of conspiracy to commit felony and stealing brought against them by the EFCC.

 

Read ALSO:Former Bank PHB MD, Atuche,  jailed six years for N25.7bn fraud

The judge subsequently sentenced Atuche to 12 years and Anyanwu to 10 years imprisonment.

Justice Okunnu discharged and acquitted Atuche’s wife on the grounds that the prosecution failed to link her to the crime.

She held that suspicion, no matter how strong, cannot take the place of fact.

The judge held that it was not proven that she was aware of the source of the funds she received into her account from her husband and she had no powers to take any decision to influence the transaction.

While the Court of Appeal reduced Atuche’s sentence to six years, it reduced Anyanwu’s sentence to eight years.

The Court of Appeal equally upheld the discharge and acquittal of Atuche’s wife.
(The Nation)

Also Read:EFCC Arraigns Female Manager for Alleged N39.8 Million Fraud in Fidelity Structures

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