Four directors of a giant oil and gas firm, Petro Union Oil and Gas Company will on Wednesday know their fate before a Lagos Federal High Court over an alleged fraud of £2.55billion days after the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) re-arraigned them over the alleged economic crimes.
The directors–Abayomi Kukoyi, trading under the name and style of Gladstone Kukoyi and Associates, Prince Kingsley Okpala; Prince Chidi Okpalaeze and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze alongside their company, Petro Union Oil and Gas Company Ltd were last week docked over the alleged £2.55bn fraud— an equivalent of N1.4trillion.
EFCC, which said the quartet and their company allegedly committed the offences between 1994 and 2007, revealed that they fraudulently procured a cheque from a foreign bank in the sum of £2.556 billion under the pretext that it was meant to construct three petrochemical refinery complexes in Nigeria.
They were also alleged to have sometime in April 2007, forged a statement of account in the name of Goldmatic Ltd., which was used to obtain the alleged fraudulent sum.
The four directors were accused of altering a Barclays Bank’s cheque dated 29th December, 1994, in the sum of £2.55billion made payable to the Union Bank account of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates, for purposes of constructing three petrochemical refineries in Nigeria.
They were alleged to have attempted to obtain money by false pretenses by demanding the said sum of £2.55billion from the Union Bank of Nigeria as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria as proceeds of the Barclays Bank’s Cheque.
According to the EFCC, the offences had contravened the provisions of Sections 1(2), 1(2)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Law of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and Sections 467(2)(I), 468 and 501 of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation 2004.
Kukoyi alongside others were first arraigned before Justice Mohammed Liman on 13th February, 2020 on a seven-count fraud charge marked FHC/L/46c/2020.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted bail.
However, their re-arraignment Wednesday last week followed an amendment of the charge by the prosecution. In the new amended charge, there were now 13 -count charge and the defendants again, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
After their pleas, trial continued in the case and the prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) called his fifth witness and former Finance Minister, Mrs. Nenandi Usman.
The witness, a former Minister of State for Finance, entered the witness box and was sworn on oath. Trial continues on 3rd February, 2021.