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How Atuche, Ebi Played the Market on PHB Public Offer



November 15, 2011

The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Futureview Financial Services, Mrs. Elizabeth Ebi, on Monday, accused former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Bank PHB, Mr. Francis Atuche, to have “contrived” a loan worth N10.9bn purportedly granted her company by the bank.

Ebi said this at a Lagos High Court in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Lateefat Okunnu, while testifying as a prosecution witness.

She denied writing various letters bearing her name and allegedly sent to her by Atuche for her to sign to “regularise” the loan after obtainning the fund.

The documents, 11 in number, were later tendered by the prosecution and admitted as exhibits.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had alleged that Atuche, his wife, Elizabeth, and a former Chief Financial Officer of the bank, Ugo Anyanwu, stole about N25.7bn belonging to the bank by  fraudulently describing the sum as loan granted to some alleged phony companies.

Led in evidence by Mr. Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), Ebi, testified that her company never applied for the bank's loan and that the subsidiary of the bank, Futureview Securities Ltd, the purported beneficiary of the loan, was not in existence as at the time the said loan was allegedly granted.

She said, “In 2006, Futureview Securities Ltd was changed to Futureview Financial Services Ltd. We only brought back Futureview Securities Ltd in 2010.

“I am not aware of any loan granted to the company because the company was not in existence between October 2008 and October 2009, when we were said to have applied for the facility and restructure of loan.”

However, Atuche’s counsel, Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN), during cross-examination, accused Ebi of “deceiving the court by telling lies” concerning an oral agreement she had with the bank at the time.

Idigbe said the N10.9bn was issued as loan to Ebi's company, following an “oral agreement” she reached with Atuche when her company was dropped as an issuing house in 2005 public offer of the bank.

But Ebi admitted Futureview Securities Limited was among the companies whose names she forwarded to Bank PHB for “preferential allotment” even as at the time the company was not existing, though “without any intention to deceive.”

According to Idigbe the loan was granted to the company,  following discussion between Atuche and the witness that the company would participate in the public offer as joint Under-writer and a Receiving Agent without having to sell  shares to be entitled to the one per cent commission for each sale.

But Ebi said she sold the shares “indirectly” through Anyanwu and that she paid back N10.9bn back to the bank with five separate cheques as proceeds of the sales.



Source: Punch. Article was originally titled ‘How Atuche used my name for N10.9bn loan’



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