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Francis Atuche, former Bank PHB MD jailed 6 years over ₦25.7B fraud



Francis Atuche jailed

Francis Atuche, ex-Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB Plc, and the bank’s former Chief Financial Officer, Ugo Anyanwu, have been convicted by the Lagos State High Court.


The judge found them guilty of stealing and conspiracy to steal, but discharged and acquitted Atuche’s wife Elizabeth.

The trio are accused of stealing N25.7 billion customers’ money belonging to the bank now known as Keystone Bank.

Justice Lateefa Okunnu sentenced Atuche and Anyanwu to six years in prison each.

Reading her judgment that lasted over 10 hours, Okunnu upheld the arguments of EFCC prosecutor Kemi Pinheiro that the N25.7 billion was stolen, not loaned, as argued by Atuche.

“The 1st defendant confirmed the bank’s ownership of the money when he said the bank in lending money makes profit.

“I am persuaded by the statement of Pat Utomi that ‘The bank still has control over money that’s left in its coffers, no matter who uses it’.

“Helen Eriyo, who is the account officer of Petosan, being unaware of the loans granted, lends credit to the testimony of Mr Ololo that he was not aware of the loan.

“The alter egos and true directing mind of the companies knew nothing about the loans. The loans indeed were a hoax,” the judge said.

atuche prison 1

Francis Atuche in court

The trio was arraigned in 2011 before Okunnu and they pleaded not guilty. Atuche is also standing trial over N125 billion alleged fraud before a Federal High Court in Lagos.

He was arraigned in 2014 alongside former managing director of Spring Bank Plc Charles Ojo on an amended 45 counts before Justice Saliu Seidu, before the judge was transferred out of the Lagos division.

The case was subsequently transferred to Justice Ayokunle Faji and the defendants re-arraigned in 2017.

Atuche’s wife cleared

Justice Okunnu however, cleared Atuche’s wife on the charge of conspiracy and stealing.

According to the judge, the EFCC failed to link her to the crime and insisted that suspicion no matter how strong can not take the place of fact.

The judge held that it was not proven that she was aware of the source of the funds she received into her account from her husband and she had no powers to take any decision to influence the transaction.



The EFCC had alleged that between November 2007 and April 2008, the accused persons stole about N25.7bn belonging to the bank.

The anti-graft agency had also claimed that of the total N25.7bn, they stole about N14.7bn by fraudulently describing it as a loan to some companies and subsequently converted the said sum to personal use.

The Commission had listed the companies as Future View Securities, Extra Oil Limited, Resolution Trust and Investment Limited, and Tradjek Nigeria Ltd.

The EFCC also alleged that another N11bn stolen by the defendants was used to purchase about 984,375,000 units of Bank PHB shares for themselves.

According to the commission, the sum used for purchasing the shares was described as a loan to some companies including, Guesstrade Services, Sentron Trading, Montrax Investico, Claremount Management Ltd., Trenton Trade, and others.

In proof of its case against the accused persons, the EFCC called 12 witnesses who gave oral evidence. It also subpoenaed 6 others to present some documents which were admitted as exhibits by the court

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