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Court jails chartered accountant over N7.3 million tax fraud, forgery

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Court jails chartered accountant over N7.3 million tax fraud, forgery

 

 

Economic Confidential, 20 December 2010
 
• remands 3 Skye Bank staff for diverting The Guardian tax cheques
• Accountant forged FIRS’ signature
 
For conniving, with three staff of Skye Bank Nigeria Plc, to defraud the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS of N7.3 million, a chartered accountant, Mr. Abayomi Sofolayan, is to spend 18 months in jail.
 
Justice Abimbola Obaseki, handed down the 18-month jail verdict,- without an option of fine-, at a Markurdi Federal High Court yesterday,  when Sofolayan  pleaded guilty to a 12 count charge of forgery, fraudulent diversion of cheques, conspiracy and nine other related charges.
 
The accused persons, Jacob Dzurgba, Abayomi Sofolahan, James Uwalaha, Deji Sanni, Afolabi Suleiman (now at large) and Etuk Umo said Prosecuting Counsel James Binang, and Assistant Director at the FIRS, fraudulently paid  the sum of N5 Million Naira being Tax payment made by Guardian Newspapers Limited into a fictitious Federal Inland Revenue Service Account No. 3111750000240 with Skye Bank Plc. 88 Old Otukpo road, Makurdi, Benue State; and you thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
 
The accused persons  followed this up with another attempt to  steal the sum of N7, 350,936 (Seven Million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand, Nine Hundred and Thirty Six Naira Only) being Tax payments made by Guardian Newspapers Limited into a fictitious Federal Inland Revenue Service Account No. 3111750000240 with Skye Bank Plc. 88 Old Otukpo road, Makurdi, Benue State.
 
This ran against Section 4 of the Criminal Code Act C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
 
Already, Sofolayan had admitted to his guilt by when he refunded the sum of N2.5 million. For one of the 10 count charges, Sofolayan was asked fined the sum of N100, 000 (one hundred thousand naira only.  Justice Obaseki however gave him no option of fine for counts three, ten and eleven.
 
Binang  told the court that Sofolayan and Skye Bank Plc. Jacob Dzurgba, Abayomi Sofolahan, James Uwalaha, Deji Sanni, Afolabi Suleiman( now at large) and Etuk Umo (now at large), forges a letter captioned  ‘Application for Current Account Opening’  dated 22nd March 2010, purportedly written and signed by Ifueko Omoigui Okauru the Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service, addressed to the Business Development Manager, Skye Bank Nigeria Plc. 88 Old Otukpo Road, Makurdi, Benue State without lawful authority.
 
The Prosecuting Counsel said the accused persons used the letter to fraudulent open an account of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Account No. 3111750000240 with Skye Bank Plc. 88 Old Otukpo road, Makurdi, Benue State.
 
Binang said this contravened the law and is punishable under Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and Sections 473(2) of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as well as Section 46 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Act No. 13 of 2007.
 
Other offences were that the accused persons forged the FIRS Chairman’s signature to open an account No. 3111750000240 with Skye Bank Plc. 88 Old Otukpo road, Makurdi, Benue State. This said Binang contravened Section 473(1) of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
 
Other offences were that the accused persons also forged a letter: ‘Confirmation and Clearance to Open Account’ dated 25th February 2010, purportedly written and signed by I.H. Dankwambo OON, Accountant-General of the Federation purportedly addressed to the Executive Chairman Federal Inland Revenue Service, which letter facilitated the fraudulent opening of Federal Inland Revenue Service Account No. 3111750000240 with Skye Bank Plc. This contravened Section 473(1) of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
 
Mr. Emmanuel Agada the Branch Manager, Skye  Bank, who represented the bank, was asked to deposit the sum of N5 million as deposit before he could earn his freedom. He was still being detained as at about 6 pm yesterday.
 
The accused staff of Skye Bank, Markurdi Branch were handed stringent bail terms. One was that they must bring a surety who must be a civil servant and must be Level 12 and above or a businessman, with property in Markurdi.
 
In another suit, also in Markurdi, Ran-Yaks Nigeria Ltd, Abu Yakubu Labaran, Donatus Aboh, Emmanuel Igbokwe Miebi Tiemo, Azubike Iheanacho (now at large) and Yusuf Bello (now at large) are being tried for forging the signature of the FRS chairman to write the Branch Manager Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. To open a purported FIRS Account No. 2601040012156 with Union Bank of Nigeria Plc Idah Branch.
 
This contravened Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
 
In the Union Bank Plc case, the accused also conspired to forge a letter captioned  ‘Electronic Payment Instructions’  dated 2nd July 2010, purportedly issued by Yusuf Bello and Azubike Iheanacho- authorized signatories addressed to the Manager Union Bank of Nigeria Plc. Idah Branch Kogi State  to debit FIRS  Account No. 2601040012156 with Union Bank of Nigeria Plc Idah Branch to the tune of N31,410,600.00 (Thirty-One Million, Four Hundred and Ten Thousand, Six Hundred Naira Only) in favour of Ran-Yaks Nig Ltd with Current Account No. 5241020014016 domiciled in Union Bank of Nigeria Plc Makurdi Branch.
 
This said Binang, contravened Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
 
Just like in the Oceanic Bank case, the accused persons also forged the signature of the Accountant General of the Federation to open the account in question.
 
Other provisions of the law contravened include: Section 516 of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. Section 473(1) of the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. under Section 4 of the Criminal Code Act C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.
 
Though the renewed onslaught claimed its first casualty, Wilson Ageriya, some years, the former Staff of Corporate Affairs Commission became the first Nigerian to be convicted over TCC forgery. Justice Ibrahim Buba of Lafia Federal High Court pronounced him guilty after a trial that ran for almost a year.
 
Oladele Okunowo, a former staff of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, became the first FIRS staff in history to be convicted for counterfeiting Tax Clearance Certificates, TCC.
 
All over the country, the trial, to which FIRS has dedicated an Investigation and Enforcement team headed by an Assistant Director, signal the birth of a zero tolerance for tax fraud and the forged TCC industry.
 
Source: Economic Confidential


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