N25bn fraud: Court of Appeal affirms conviction of ex-Bank PHB MD Atuche, Anyanwu

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The Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, has upheld the conviction of ex-Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, Francis Atuche and ex-Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu.

Atuche and Anyanwu had approached the appellate court to set aside their conviction by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.

The duo were on June 16, 2021, found guilty for N25.7billion fraud.

On Thursday, Justices Sadiq Umar, Adebukola Banjoko and Kayode Bada resolved all the issues in the appeal in favour of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

They reduced Atuche’s jail term to 12 years and that of Anyanwu’s to 8 years.

The court also affirmed the discharge and acquittal of Atuche’s wife, Elizabeth.

Justice Umar, who read the verdict, upheld the EFCC’s arguments and dismissed the appeal.

About three years after their arraignment by the EFCC in 2011, the convicts approached the Court of Appeal to challenge their trial by the lower court for lack of jurisdiction.

In September 2016, the court ordered Justice Okunnu to hands-off the trial, but did not quash the numbers of counts against the defendants.

The EFCC approached the Supreme Court to set aside the judgment and order a trial.

The apex court then directed that the case be returned to Justice Okunnu for continuation of trial.

The judge told Atuche and Anyanwu that the amount in question was diverted as the first and third defendants admitted that loans were used to purchase shares.

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