A Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday convicted four companies of laundering $15.5m kept in their accounts with Skye Bank.
The companies – Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited; Seagate Property Development & Investment Co. Limited; Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Company Limited – are linked with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Waripamo-Owei Dudafa.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had in August frozen the accounts of the four companies and seized the $15m in the course of probing Dudafa for money laundering.
But wife of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan had sued the EFCC and Skye Bank, claiming ownership of the $15.5m.
On Thursday, Justice Babs Kuewumi convicted the four companies of laundering the $15.5m.
The companies had on September 15, 2016 pleaded guilty to laundering the money when they were arraigned by the EFCC along with Dudafa, a lawyer, Amajuoyi Briggs; and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
But Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty.
Based on the guilty plea of the companies, the EFCC prosecutor, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, reviewed the facts of the case and told the court how the companies laundered the money.
Oyedepo tolf the judge that the money was stolen from the State House, Abuja.
He said, “The EFCC received an intelligence report showing vividly that the fourth to seventh defendants retained proceeds of crime.
“Our investigations showed that Fetus Iyoha admitted receiving the fund from the first defendant (Dudafa). Iyoha is a domestic staff at the State House.
“He admitted that funds credited into the accounts were given to him from the State House.”
Oyedepo said Iyoha paid $3,096,377.38 into Pluto’s account; $3,410,534.71 into Seagate’s account; $3,765,711.87 into Trans Oceans’ account; and $250,000 into Avalon Global’s account.
He said the accounts of the companies were domiciled in Skye Bank.
Justice Kuewumi admitted the accounts statements in evidence. He also admitted their mandate cards, certificates of incorporation and statements made to the EFCC by the companies’ representatives.
While convicting the companies of money laundering, the judge said he was satisfied that the EFCC had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt.
“I am satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case. I’ll exercise my discretion to suspend sentence until conclusion of trial,” the judge held.
Following the companies’ conviction, Oyedepo urged the court to order the forfeiture of the money to the Federal Government.
“Having found them guilty, the court should make a consequential order that the money should be forfeited to the Federal Government,” he said.
But the judge declined the application, saying he would reserve decision on the money till the end of the case. He noted that there was still Patience Jonathan’s suit, where she is claiming ownership of the money.
The judge held, “The ownership issue is still pending. There’s also a pending suit on the matter.”
He subsequently adjourned till December 14 for the trial of Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku.