How Ecobank committed $50,000, N9.2m fraud – EFCC witness

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has presented its first witness, Jones Oboh, in an alleged $50,000 and N9.2million fraud involving Ecobank Plc and one of its employees, Anieka Udoh, before Justice Saliu Seidu of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos State.

The first defendant, Ecobank Plc, was arraigned on March 12, 2019, while the second defendant, Udoh, was arraigned on March 7, 2019.

One of the counts reads: “That you, Ecobank Plc and one Anieka Udoh, whilst being an employee of Eco Bank Plc sometime in 2009, at Lagos within the jurisdiction of the Honourable court, negligently failed to exercise due diligence in relation to conduct of financial transactions with Major General Umaru Mohammed and fraudulently converted Major General Umaru Mohammed’s Ecobank MasterCard Account No. 0015052989 from debit card to credit card and consequently debited Major General Umaru Mohammed’s account in the sum of over $50,000 without the knowledge and authority of Major General Umaru Mohammed.”

At Wednesday sitting, the first prosecution witness, PW1, Oboh, a former Loan Recovery and Collection Officer with the bank, revealed to the court how the first defendant, Ecobank Plc, deliberately operated on the account of a customer, Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed, for five years without his (the customer) knowledge.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Bilikisu Buhari, the PW1 told the court that, while he was a staff of the bank, it reflected on his system in the bank that one Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed, who is a customer of the bank and also the complainant, owed the bank the sum of N9.2million.

In his further testimony, the witness said: “After checking the records of those owing the bank, I discovered that Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed was one of those granted loans by Ecobank Plc.

“Sometime in March, 2018, I called Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed on the phone to find out when he was going to pay back his loan.

“But to my surprise, he said he did not owe the bank and that there was no time he applied for any form of loan from the bank.

“Thereafter, a meeting was set up between the bank and Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed through me.

“It was in the meeting that Maj.- Gen. Umaru Mohammed was told that his account was in the debit of N9.2million, showing that he utilized his Master Credit Card over a period of time.

“Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed informed the bank that there was no time he applied for a Master Credit Card from Ecobank and that the only transaction he had with the bank was that he applied to open a domiciliary account in which a debit card was issued to him so as to use it whenever he travels out of the country.”

The witness told the court that he investigated the matter and found out that in April 2013, the sum of $38,725 was recorded against the complainant.

He further told the court that “In July, 2014, a reversal of $32,887 was made on the account of Maj.-Gen. Mohammed, leaving a debit of $6,125 in 2014.

“Afterwards, the bank opened a Naira account in Maj.-Gen. Umaru Mohammed’s name without his knowledge and Dollars were converted to N261 to a Dollar from his domiciliary account, leaving a debit balance of N3.1million on the Naira account.”

The witness also revealed to the court that the bank never wrote or invited Mohammed to bring to his notice all the “eventualities” on his accounts for five years until he took a step to do that.

“The bank left the account to grow in debit from N3.1million to N9.2million without informing the account owner.

“The second defendant, Anieka Udoh, was the account officer of the complainant,” he further stated.

Justice Seidu adjourned the case to April 18, 2019 for continuation of trial.