Alleged N514.4m Fraud: Audio Evidence Played In Court

A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja listened to an Audio recording of a conversation purporting to reveal how an advertising firm, Afromedia Plc, was defrauded of N514.4 million by a former Director of the firm, Mohammed Gobir.

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Gobir, who was also the chairman of Business Development Committee of Afromedia Plc, was arraigned before the court by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 17-count charge of obtaining money under false pretence, stealing, fraud, use of forged documents, and possession of forged documents.

He was also accused of fraudulently obtaining $1 million (about N198,870,000.00); N514,457,151.87; $2,102,740 (about N418,171,903.80); N123 million and £51,000 (N14,667,898.25) at various times from the cpmpany.

He, however, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The Managing Director of Afromedia, Mr Akinola Olopade while testifying presented to the court as evidence, a Feb. 11, 2013 audio conversation he had with Gobir.

The recording was played to the hearing of a packed courtroom.

In the recording, Gobir claimed that N250million which was part of the money he owed Afromedia was about to be cleared in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), he also further claimed that he had gotten a text message alert from the bank.

The prosecution, led by Mr A.B.C Ozioku, however, claimed that despite Gobir’s claims that he did not defraud the company, the audio recording was proof of his dishonesty as there was no money with the CBN.

Counsel to Gobir, Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), however, objected to the remainder of the audio recording being played in court.

“To see that justice is done, let us be served copies of the compact disc (CD) to enable us prepare for cross-examination,” he said.

Justice Raliatu Adebiyi noting that part of the audio conversation was in yoruba ordered that a yoruba interpreter should transcribe the audio recording.

“The Chief Registrar of the court shall employ a yoruba translator who will transcribe the CDs and copies of the transcript will be served on all parties.

“The cost of the translation will be borne by the prosecution,” Adebiyi said.

The judge adjourned the case to January 2 and 30 for continuation of trial.

According to the anti-graft agency, the accused person had between January 2009 and December 2011, with an intent to defraud, obtained the sum of N514, 457. 151.87, from the the firm by falsely pretending that the amount represented the cost of facilitating and securing the sum of $70 million USD, from his account with NATVEST Bank, London, United Kingdom.

The EFCC also alleged that the businessman obtained the sum of $2.102 million USD, and the sum of £51, 000 British Pound Sterling, under false pretence that the sums will be used to facilitate and securing the sum of $70 million USD, from his account with NATVEST Bank, London, United Kingdom, as your investment fund in Afromedia Plc out of the sum of $250 million USD.

Gobri was further accused by the EFCC to have dishonesty converted the sum of $1 million USD, and the sum of N123 million belonging to the firm to his personal used.

The commission alleged that the accused person had on November 14, 2012, andSeptember 12, 2015, forged a document belonging to Hot Forex a plc, captioned ‘Disclosure of fund depositor with Natwest Bank International London, purportedly signed by one Mr. Raymond Spinger, and communicate same to Mr. Akinola Irewunmi Olopade, the Afromedia Plc’s managing director/Chief Executive Officer, with intent that the said document may be used or acted on as genuine to the prejudice of Mr. Akinola Irewunmi Olopade or any other person.

The accused person was also alleged to have on July 5, 2010, and December 2012, fraudulently used a Royal Dutch Exchange Bureau Plc’s document dated July 5, 2010, and captioned “Re: Update in the Natwest Bank deposits-OT21991($250m USD)”,and purportedly signed by one John Williams Smith, Director of Personal and Administration and communicate same to Mr. Akinola Irewunmi Olopade, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Afromedia Plc, with the intent that the said document may be used it acted as genuine to the prejudice of Olopade or any other person.

He was also alleged to have forged an EU waiver certificate dated June 30, 2010, an used fraudulently claimed that it was issued by Royal Dutch Exchange Bureau Plc, to him as the beneficiary and signed by the Registrar, and communicate same to Mr. Akinola Irewunmi Olopade, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of Afromedia Plc, with an intent that said document may at be used or acted upon as genuine to the prejudice of Mr. Olopade or any other person.

Accordong to the prosecutor, Ozioko, the offences are contrary to and punishable under sections 1(1)(a), 1(3), 285(8), 9(b), 278(1)(b), 363(1), 2(b), 364(1) of the Criminal laws of Lagos State of Nigeria, 2003, and sections 6, 8(b), 1(3) of the Advance Fee Fraud related offences Act No. 14 of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Source: Leadership

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