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Business Last Updated: Dec 29, 2007 - 9:58:10 AM

Heat On Two Nigerian Banks and Media House
By Saharareporters 1/12/07
Dec 29, 2007 - 9:49:35 AM

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Our investigations reveal that Oceanic Bank, owned by the Ibru family, has been more directly and deeply affected by the after-shocks of Ibori’s legal travails.

Some of the bank’s major customers, fearing that anti-corruption investigators across the globe looking into Ibori’s money laundering activities, may indict the bank for its role in assisting the governor to move funds out of Delta State to designated foreign accounts, have started panic withdrawals.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) once arrested two officials of Oceanic Bank, including the son of Cecilia Ibru, the bank’s CEO. The Ibru family used its media contacts to press local newspapers and magazines not to report on the arrests and the bank’s involvement in Ibori’s massive graft.

The EFCC has also named Oceanic Bank as one of the banks that assisted the former governor to procure questionable loans to purchase Willbros Nigeria Limited using a front, Henry Imashekka, who used Ascot Nigeria Limited to seal the deal.

Willbros Nigeria Limited was sold to James Ibori for $155 million in a cash transaction that has now attracted US investigators. The EFCC indicated in an affidavit that Oceanic Bank played a despicable role in granting loans to entities involved in the looting of Delta State treasury. Other questionable transactions include the purchase of the National Fertilizer Company (NAFCON).

Also hit hard by the ongoing investigations and restraint order on Ibori’s assets is the United Bank for Africa (UBA). Sources told Saharareporters that Mr. Tony Elumelu, the MD of UBA, served as a front for James Ibori. The former governor reportedly diverted monies from Delta State treasury through Standard Trust Bank, Mr. Elumelu’s former bank.

Metropolitan Police sources told Saharareporters that Nigerian banks involved with Ibori's money laundering remain subjects of interest in their continued investigation of the former governor whose worldwide assets remain frozen on the order of the High Court in London.

One officer revealed that they interrogated “one Elumelu” over his role in moving funds out of Nigeria on behalf of James Ibori, but the Mets would not reveal the full identity of the Elumelu they interrogated in the course of their investigations. However, other sources told Saharareporters that Tony Elumelu was the likely suspect owing to his close relationship to Ibori.

UBA, which are bankers to James Ibori's newspaper outfit, Daily Independent, has recently refused to extend a loan facility to the Lagos-based newspaper citing British Police investigations against the former governor.

The bank’s denial of a loan facility to Daily Independent has put the newspaper in dire straits, as the management has been unable to pay reporters and other workers at the newspaper for two months running.

Our investigations revealed that the current Delta State administration, run by Ibori’s cousin, Emmanuel Uduaghan, was making efforts to funnel money to the newspaper for the payment of staff salaries.

Governor Uduaghan has been making high-gear plans to scuttle the investigation and prosecution of his cousin and predecessor.

An authoritative within the state told Saharareporters that Uduaghan may have given Ibori back the N5 billion naira the EFCC recently recovered from the former governor and returned to the state’s coffers. “I can tell you that Dr. Uduaghan gave the money back to Chief Ibori,” said our source. “The governor’s argument is that Chief Ibori invested billions in the Yar'adua presidential elections and should recoup his investment.”

It would be recalled that the EFCC in a sworn affidavit said it had recovered N5 billion in Afribank shares bought in the name of Delta State but which Ibori converted to his personal account. The anti-corruption agency declared that the money had been returned to the state’s account. Our source, who works in the Delta State Ministry of Finance, told us that “it appears the governor (Emmanuel Uduaghan) has returned the money to his cousin (James Ibori), since we can't trace it in our state accounts anywhere.”



Source:Ocnus.net 2007

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