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13 July 2020
In June 2019 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as part of its investigation into the affairs of a former state governor, reported that it had frozen a number of bank accounts alleged to belong to the former governor which contained suspected public funds. In 2020 the EFCC reported that, to date, a total of N7.9 billion had been recovered from these accounts and more than N5.7 billion had been returned to the state government.
These monies were said to be payments for workers' salaries, pensions and severance allowances which had not been paid by the state government. Interim forfeiture orders were obtained in respect of real estate said to be beneficially owned by the former governor and members of his family. The EFCC also obtained freezing orders against the bank accounts marked for investigation, from which it was claimed that the total sum of N7.9 billion had been recovered.
The governor subsequently denied any wrongdoing, although he acknowledged that the funds in the relevant accounts and the assets in respect of which interim forfeiture orders had been obtained belonged to the state government and not to him in his personal capacity. He insisted that he had committed no fraud. While most of the details of the EFCC investigation remain unknown, it is clear that these funds and assets should have been used for the benefit of the state and its citizens and workers and, for reasons yet to be explained, they remained in accounts to which it seems only the former governor had access.
Many questions abound:
A final question, which rarely seems to be addressed when these issues come to light, is how did the banks where these funds were found account for their provenance, especially in light of anti-money laundering legislation that has been in place since 2004 and requires banks to ascertain the source of their customers' funds?
For further information on this topic please contact Olamide Aleshinloye at Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore by telephone (+234 1 462 2502) or email (email@example.com). The Sofunde Osakwe Ogundipe & Belgore website can be accessed at www.sooblaw.com.
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