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Saturday, January 15, 2022

Malabu Scandal: Procedure Violated Money Laundry law, Witness Tells Court

A prosecution witness in the ongoing Malabu Oil Scandal, Temitope Erinomo, Thursday testified before the Federal High Court Abuja that Malabu Oil and Gas Limited and six other companies charged with fraud in the Oil Prospecting Lease 245 transactions violated money-laundering laws.
Erinomo a Principal Compliance Officer at the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering in the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investments appeared as a first prosecution witness in the trial.
Erinomo also told the court that Malabu oil was registered as a consultancy firm.
In the matter, a money laundering charge was brought against Malabu Oil and Aliyu Abubakar, a businessman and other defendants, who are standing trial on 67 counts of money laundering involving about 800 million dollars instituted by the EFCC.
Other defendants in the suit are A-Group Construction Company Limited, Rocky Top Resources Limited, Mega-Tech Engineering Limited, Novel Properties and Development Company Limited, imperial Union Limited and Carlin International Nigeria Limited.
Led in evidence by Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) prosecuting counsel, Bala Sanga, the witness added that the other companies allegedly linked to Abubakar, were registered to carry out construction activities.
According to the witness, considering the status of the six firms as construction and consultancy firms, they are designated by the Ministry of Trade and Investments as Designated Non-Financial Institutions (DNFI).
He said that such firms were designated as DNFI in 2013 because of their high tendency of being used for money laundering.
He explained further that the DNFI firms were mandated by the Money Laundering Prohibition Act to, among others, be registered with the ministry.
He also said they were to submit statutory reports of their activities and declare qualified transactions to the ministry and the EFCC.
The witness also said that the firms were also required by law to put in place anti-money laundering measures, set up an internal audit to measure the effectiveness of the measures and appoint a compliance officer from the members of the management staff.
“We found out that these companies have not made any declaration to the ministry in compliance with the Act.
“We also found out that they do not submit their statutory reports to the ministry and the EFCC and have not made the declaration of their activities to the ministry.
“They do not have a record of measures they have taken to combat money laundering.
“They do not have an internal audit unit to measure the effectiveness of the measures they have taken to combat money laundering.
“They also do not carry out training for their staff on anti-money laundering measures and we have uncovered several transactions which were not reported to EFCC,” he said.
Under crossexamination by Mr J.A Achimugu, the witness told the court that he did not visit Malabu’s office or invite its staff, before arriving at his findings, because he was not mandated to do so.
The witness also tendered reports of his findings, which were admitted in evidence.
The continuation of cross-examination has been slated for Oct. 27 by the trial judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo.

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