Court orders forfeiture of N1bn abandoned in Heritage bank account to FG
Justice A. Obiozor of the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos on Tuesday ordered the final forfeiture of the sums of N1,260,000,000, $327,132.35, £167.85 and €157.90 recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to the Federal Government.
The order came following an ex parte application filed by the EFCC, against Heritage Bank Plc and Secure Electronics Technology Limited.
The funds were discovered, following an intelligence report received by the Commission, and investigations which revealed no owner to the funds.
The persons in whose possession the funds were found did not lay claim to them and surrendered them for forfeiture.
In an affidavit in support of the application, EFCC stated that Heritage Bank did not provide any legitimate explanation for the monies and “consequently returned the said money through 16 separate bank drafts issued in favour of the EFCC Recovered Funds Account.”
Justice Obiozor, in his ruling on August 15, 2018, had ordered the interim forfeiture of the monies, which were suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities, to the Federal Government.
In line with that court order, the EFCC had published the interim forfeiture order in a national newspaper of August 21, 2018 for the correspondents or anyone interested in the money to show cause why the funds should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At the hearing on Tuesday, the EFCC through its counsel, Ekene Iheanacho, said the respondent had not shown up to lay claim to the money, despite being served with the earlier interim order of forfeiture, motion for final forfeiture and hearing notices on the action.
He therefore, urged the Judge to order the funds to be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
In his ruling, Justice Obiozor held that “the applicant has proved on the balance of probabilities that the funds recovered from the respondents by the applicant were reasonably suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activities.”
The Judge, therefore, ordered that the various sums of money be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Raphael Orji is a Digital Marketing Expert, Seasoned and Dynamic Freelancer, with interest in Banking, Personal finance, Entrepreneurial development. A Councillor and Motivational Speaker.
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