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Refineries: Oil firm directors remanded for ‘£2.55b Barclays Bank scam’

A Federal High Court in Lagos Thursday remanded four directors of Petro Union Oil and Gas Ltd in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)’s custody following their arraignment for an alleged £2.556 billion scam.

The directors are: Abayomi Kukoyi (Trading under the name and style of Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates), Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze and Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze,

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They were accused of, among others, forging a Barclays Bank cheque and attempting to use it to obtain £2.556 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in three fake refineries scam.

Each defendant pleaded not guilty.

EFCC counsel Mr Rotimi Jacobs prayed the court to remand the men in Nigerian Correctional Services custody, pending trial.

But the defendants, through their counsel Olasubomi Adegbemisoye and Bashir Ramon, informed the court that they would be seeking bail.

They persuaded the judge to remand them in the anti-graft agency’s custody, on grounds of ill-health and better accessibility to their lawyers.

Justice Liman upheld their prayers and adjourned till February 19, to hear their bail applications.

The defendants are standing trial on a seven-count charge of forgery, uttering and attempt to obtain money by false pretence.

The EFCC in a charge marked FHC/L/46c/2020, alleged that the four directors alongside the oil firm and one Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased), committed the offences between 1994 and 2007.

The court heard that they fraudulently procured a Barclays Bank cheque in the sum of £2.556b, under the pretext that it was meant to construct three petrochemical refinery complexes in Nigeria.

They were also alleged to have sometime in April 2007, forged a statement of account containing £2,159, 221, 313.54 billion in the name of Goldmatic Ltd, purportedly issued by the CBN.

The four directors were further accused of altering a bank cheque of December 29, 1994, in the sum of £2.556 billion, made payable to Gladstone Kukoyi & Associates, for the purpose of constructing the refineries.

EFCC prosecutor Mr. Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) said the offences were contrary to, and punishable under sections 1(2), 1(2)(a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, 1990.

They also contravened sections 509, 467(2)(I) and 468 of the Criminal Code Act, 2004, the lawyer added.

Some of the counts against the defendants read:

“That you Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased), Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze and Princess Gladys Okpalaeze (now at large) on or about 29th December, 1994, fraudulently procured a Barclays Bank cheque dated 29th December, 1994 in the sum of £2,556,000,000.00 made payable to Gladstone Kukoyi and Associates, purporting the said cheque to be meant for foreign investment in the construction of three refineries and petrochemical complex in Nigeria, when you knew that the said cheque to be false and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1(2) (a) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990 and punishable under same Section.

“That you Petro Union Oil and Gas Limited, Prince Isaac Okpala (now deceased), Abayomi Kukoyi, Prince Kingsley Okpala, Prince Chidi Okpalaeze, Prince Emmanuel Okpalaeze and Princess Gladys Okpalaeze (now at large) on or about the 10th April, 2007 with intent to defraud, forged a certain document to wit: statement of account in the name of Goldmatic Limited purportedly issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria with Account Number: 10382175 wherein you falsely claimed that the Central Bank had in its custody, the sum of £2,159, 221, 313. 54 in favour of Goldmatic Limited and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 467 (2) (I) of the Criminal Code Act, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same Section.

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