EFCC Arrests Access Bank Regional Manager For Forging Series Of Cheques And Using False Documents To Steal N50 Million From Customer

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An Ikeja Special Offence, Lagos has heard how Access Bank and its Regional Manager, Sydney Nmeka, forged series of cheques, falsified documents and stole the sum of N50 million from an account belonging to one of its customers, Aerol Hotels Limited.

Nmeka, the then Regional Manager at the Festac Branch, alongside Access Bank, is currently standing trial on a five count charges bothering on conspiracy to commit felony, stealing, forgery, using false documents and false accounting.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, alleged that the defendants (Nmeka and Access bank), who committed the offence sometime in 2014 in Lagos, used false documents (forged cheques) to authorize the illegal transfer of money from account No: 088952246 belonging to Aerols Hotel Ltd to other persons with intent that it may in a way be used as having been made by the customer.

A prosecution witness, Mr Babatunde Emmanuel, who is a hotelian and owner of Aerols Hotel Ltd, narrated how Nmeka used his position to forged his signature to divert funds from his company’s loan account into other fraudulently non existing/ unregistered companies, with the bank, without his consent.

Mr Emmanuel told the court that he met Nmeka sometime in February 2014 when he (defendant), as then Regional Manager Access bank, Festac Branch, approached him with a bank loan offer.

Earlier while led in evidence by the EFCC prosecutor, Ayanfeoluwa Ogunsina, the witness said, “Sometime in 2014, Nmeka approached me with an offer of helping me secure a loan with Access bank, and I asked how because I had no account with the bank, at that time.

” Nmeka said I shouldn’t worry that he would open an account for me and secure a loan of N50m. So he later opened the account, Aerols Hotel Ltd, and Access bank credited the account with the sum of N50m sometimes in May (two months after).

“But later, I realised that I wouldn’t be needing up to N50m so I put a call across to Nmeka to return part of the money. But he advised that the money would be going to my loan account and that I can sign the cheque for him to be crediting my loan account.

“But surprisingly, the loan kept going up, even without my effort of repaying. So the company, Aerol Hotel Ltd, engaged the services of an auditor to audit its account with Access bank and the auditor discovered illegal and fraudulent transactions of debits in the account”.

The witness said that the auditor found out that his signature was forged and used to withdraw very large sums from the account in favour of individuals and companies.

“Aerols Hotel Ltd account was debited and the funds were diverted to companies such as: Saviour Fair Montessori School (N500, 000), Dan Logistics Nigeria Ltd (N7m), J. O Universal Nigeria Concept Ltd (N5m), Helem Global Logistics Ltd (N5m), Sizu International Ltd (N15m) and Sydgold Investment Ltd (N10m).

” These companies were used to divert the funds paid to the loan account by me, geared towards paying down on the facility/loan account.

“Again, the sum of N15m paid for the reduction of the loan was fraudulently and criminally diverted to Sizu International company Limited rather than the purpose of loan liquidation.

” Sir, further inquiry into the companies used to criminally steal funds from the loan account were found not to be registered in CAC but they maintained accounts with Access Bank.

“I do not know these companies neither have I ever dealt with them personally or otherwise,” the 49-year-old businessman said.

During cross examination, the witness was asked by the defence counsel, the reason he issued different post dated cheques said that he trusted what the defendant told him and he never for once thought a bank manager would steal and defraud him or his company.

According to him, “He is the bank manager and I trusted him. That is why when he told me that I could issue those cheques, I did”

When also asked if the cheques he complained about was used to take money out of the company accounts and who signed it, the witness replied, “I signed some, and didn’t sign some”.

The witness further said that he never knew what was going on in the account until forensic analysis was carried out on the instruction of his lawyer.

“I don’t do electronic transfers yet, some of this was known after forensic analysis was done on the account that a huge amount of money had gone out without my consent.

“My Lord, still this period didn’t receive any sms alert on my phone on all this transaction. So, what we decided was to quickly report to the EFCC and also write to the M.D of Access bank to complain of the fraudulent transaction”.

The matter was further adjourned till the October 25, 2021 for continuation of trial.



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