Francis Atuche, the former Managing Director of the defunct Bank PHB has been sentenced to six years in prison by Justice Lateefa Okunnu of the Ikeja Division of the Lagos State High Court on Wednesday for stealing N27 billion.
The judge also sentenced Ugo Anyanwu, the bank’s former Chief Financial Officer, to six years in prison.
Elizabeth Atuche, Francis Atuche’s wife, was discharged and acquitted.
Three of them were accused of stealing and conspiring to steal N25.7 billion belonging to the bank.
2011, they were arraigned before Mrs Okunnu and they pleaded not guilty.
Reading the judgment Justice Okunnu upheld the arguments of Kemi Pinheiro (SAN), the EFCC prosecutor, that the N25.7 billion was stolen, not loaned, as argued by Mr Atuche.
According to her judgement: “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 also held that the first and third defendants did not debunk the evidence of the prosecution that the loans were used to purchase shares.
“They rather contended that the monies granted as loan could be used for whatever purposes.”