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Ladoja Failed To Return ‘Stolen’ Funds, Says EFCC

The Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday heard that a former Oyo State Governor Rashidi Ladoja allegedly did not return his share of the funds he received from sale of the state’s shares.

Ladoja is on trial for allegedly converting N4.7 billion from the state treasury to his personal use.

But he denied the allegation.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) charged him with Waheed Akanbi, his commissioner for Finance, for alleged graft.

An EFCC investigator, Abubakar Madaki, who testified, averred that the former governor gave instructions in 2007 that the shares, worth N6.6 billion, be sold at discounted rates without the Executive Council’s (Exco’s) resolution.

The witness said the money allegedly went to Ladoja, his family and friends.

According to the investigator, Ladoja engaged Fountain Securities as a portfolio manager to sell the shares at a discounted rate.

The shares were acquired by McLace Securities.

“In the course of our investigation, about N500 million was recovered from McLace Security, Fountain Securities and other stockbrokers,” Madaki said.

According to him, Ladoja promised to return his share of the money, but never did.

“The EFCC recovered over N500 million and some vehicles. All the recoveries were remitted to the Oyo State government, except the money and vehicle that Ladoja got, which he claimed he would return, but never did,” Madaki said.

The witness said money recovered “was the balance that was supposed to be paid to the state government but was shared”.

Madaki said the Nigeria Stock Exchange (NSE) launched an investigation into how Oyo State shares were sold.

The witness said EFCC also discovered that a residential apartment, called Quarter 361, was purchased by Ladoja’s former Executive Assistant Adewale Atanda on the former governor’s behalf with proceeds of shares from Heritage Apartments, the state’s broker.

To verify that the property was acquired with the shares’ proceed, Madaki said EFCC requested the payment details and discovered that a cheque was written by Heritage Apartments.

The witness said Atanda bought 14 cars for lawmakers as well as for Ladoja and his wife, using loan obtained from Wema Bank Plc.

He added: “They used the shares’ proceeds to offset the loan they took from Wema Bank. The accused benefited from the vehicle. The wife also benefited.”

The witness said investigations were extended to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to unravel the identity of another company, Bistrum Investment Limited, also used in the transfer of Oyo State funds.

He said although the first accused denied knowledge of Bistrum, he admitted knowing one its directors, who he said was his cousin.

Madaki said further investigations confirmed that Atanda’s account in Lagoon Homes, which also received part of proceeds from stock brokers, was issued a bank draft of N70 million.

The EFCC accused Ladoja and Akanbi of converting Oyo State’s N1,932,940,032.48 to their personal use through the Guaranty Trust Bank account of a company, Heritage Apartments Limited.

The prosecution said the former governor removed £600,000 (about N240,219,945) from the state’s coffers in 2007 and sent it to Bimpe Ladoja in London, United Kingdom (UK).

Ladoja also allegedly bought an armoured Land Cruiser Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) with N42 million for himself, using public funds.

The EFCC investigator accused the former governor of converting N728,600,000 and another N77,850,000 in 2007.

He was said to have also transferred N77,850,000 to Bistrum Investments, which he allegedly nominated to help him buy a property, Quarter 361, in Ibadan, Oyo State capital.

The alleged offence contravenes sections 17(a) and18 (1) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2004, punishable under sections 14 (1), 16 (a) (b) and 18 (2).

Ladoja and Akanbi pleaded not guilty.

The trial continues today.

Credit: TheNation

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